Most of us have dreams.
We often know exactly what the first steps are to get closer to these dreams.
Nevertheless, only a fraction of all people starts to set off at all.
What about the rest?
They talk to themselves that it is not yet time and that they have to plan even better. For these reasons, they keep putting things off because they are afraid to fail.
But mostly there is nothing else than fear – often fear of failure.
In this article, you will learn how to overcome this fear of failure.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I became successful. ”– Michael Jordan (former American basketball player and entrepreneur)
In this article you will learn:
- What it means to fail
- Where does the fear of failure come from?
- Why it is not bad to fail
- You want that failure to be a part of it
- How to best deal with a fear of failure
- What your expectations have to do with failure
- How to change your attitude to failure
What does it mean to fail and where does the fear come from?
If you failed, it means that you were unsuccessful in your endeavour. You wanted to achieve something, but it didn’t work out the way you hoped it would.
Whether you are successful is often a matter of expectation.
With what intention do you approach a thing?
Do you want to make everything perfect right away? In this case, you can only fail …
What do you expect when you try out a particular sport for the first time?
That you immediately move like a professional who has done nothing else throughout his life?
Failure to fear usually arises from wrong expectations and exaggerated perfectionism.
We usually approach a thing with a certain expectation: we hope for a certain end result and are frustrated when it doesn’t happen.
If this happens over and over again, it can happen that some people do not want to take further “failures” and fear of failure arises.
But failure is part of it and is an inevitable part of the learning process.
For this reason, I would like to invite you to perceive failure in the future differently.
Failing temporarily is part of it
In his book “High-flyer“, the American author Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it should take 10,000 hours to master a certain skill.
Even though there are now studies that contradict this statement, there is still a lot of truth in the 10,000-hour rule:
If you put 10,000 hours of practice into a certain thing, you won’t be able to do anything other than massively improve the desired ability.
But I can promise you one thing: In these 10,000 hours, you will fail again and again.
No matter if you:
- learn a certain sport,
- give better lectures,
- learn a foreign language or
- want to set up your own company,
with all of these activities, it will often not go as you would like and there will always be setbacks.
The question is what you focus on:
That you keep failing, or the progress that is inevitable as long as you stay on the ball.
“I am not discouraged because every attempt that is rejected as wrong is a further step forward.” – Thomas Alva Edison (American inventor and entrepreneur)
Do you want another example?
As an infant, you fell an average of 8,000 times – and therefore failed by definition – before you could run properly.
And now? It worked wonderfully: you can run.
You weren’t afraid to fail, didn’t give up and just kept trying – and here we are:
You only failed when you give up
Thomas A Edison was an American inventor in the field of electricity and electrical engineering. Among other things, he invented the light bulb. For these, he allegedly needed around 10,000 attempts.
After 1,000 unsuccessful attempts, one of his employees told him that they had failed.
Edison only replied: “We didn’t fail, we just found 1,000 ways that it didn’t work.”
Edison has gone down in history as one of the most famous inventors of all time. He registered over 1,000 patents in his life.
He once described the secret of his success in the following words:
“I am a good sponge, I absorb ideas and make them usable. Most of my ideas originally belonged to people who didn’t bother to develop them further. ”
Edison was not afraid to fail – on the contrary: he took advantage of the fact that other people gave up and thus failed.
“There are many more people who give up than those who fail.” – Henry Ford (American entrepreneur)
As already described in the introduction, only a small proportion of people set off to make their dreams come true.
This small part can be divided into two groups:
- People who are discouraged by setbacks and give up and
- People who continue despite the failure in the meantime
You can guess three times which group will achieve its goals …
The question you can ask yourself is this: Which group do you want to belong to?
If your goals are really important to you, I recommend never giving up if these goals:
- Are reasonably realistic and
- You are willing to pay the price to reach them.
Because my goals are so important to me, I consciously took a big risk and burned the ships behind me, so that it is no longer possible for me to give up – and thus fail.
Even if things are not going as I hoped, I do not regret this step.
In such a situation, it is important to ask yourself again and again whether you are still on the right path and to adjust the path if necessary.
What a flight has in common with your destinations
Suppose you are on an airplane that flies from Paris to London.
Except for takeoff and landing, the route will probably seem straight, but it is not:
Due to crosswinds and gusts, the pilot must constantly counteract and correct the course so that the plane actually arrives in London. These corrections are only so fine that you don’t notice them.
It is the same with your goals:
On the way to your goals, it will always not go as you expected. Accordingly, you will always be allowed to make adjustments if you want to achieve your goals.
It is not possible to plan in advance for all eventualities. Exaggerated perfectionism and fear of mistakes only mean that you will never start – and therefore fail perfectly.
So just start and optimize later. There is no wrong and failure, there is only feedback.
Constantly question what works and what doesn’t. Keep what works, what doesn’t work as you imagine, exchange or optimize it.
You will only find out what does not work if you give it a try and fail briefly:
Fail quickly, because failure is the way
Since I like to surround myself with people who are further than me, I have some successful entrepreneurs whom I am learning from a lot.
None of these successful entrepreneurs are afraid to fail. They have all failed countless times, but they kept moving forward. For this reason, among other things, they now live a life that other people can only dream of.
What I learned from them is that they go straight to the action while others are still stuck in the planning phase, so as not to make any mistakes.
The motto for this is: Done is better than perfect.
These entrepreneurs test one thing, adjust it and test again. The game continues until they become successful or notice that this project is not profitable and is immediately put back to the file.
How it will ultimately be can never be predicted with 100% certainty beforehand. You can only find out in practice.
No, I’m not writing that you should plunge into your projects completely blue-eyed in the future. But keep in mind that planning too detailed is often just an excuse not to have to start.
So fail quickly, because that’s how you gain experience. The experience will help you get better over time, next time you can do it differently and make adjustments.
Even if you stop pursuing your project – for whatever reason – you don’t know how you will need the experience gained in it again later.
Here are the 3 tips on how best to deal with the fear of failure
1. What is the worst thing that can happen? And what’s the best?
Fear used to be important for our survival, but now it stands in our way and prevents us from living life the way we would like it to.
If we face challenges, our brain imagines the worst horror scenarios, which could all go wrong:
- We lose everything we own
- Our friends turn away from us
- Other people point their fingers at us and laugh at us
But we usually don’t really think these fears to the end.
I recommend that you do it now:
What’s the one thing you’ve been putting off for a long time because you’re afraid to fail?
What would be the absolute worst-case scenario?
Whatever this may be, let me guess:
- You will be alive and well
- Still, have enough to eat
- Drinking water from the tap and
- A roof over your head.
These are things that other people on this planet can only dream of.
In addition, your circle of friends will most likely still be behind you.
If your friends really turn away from you: be happy, because then they weren’t really friends …
Now also consider what the best-case scenario is.
What would your life be like if you overcome your fear of failure and become successful?
Ideally, do this exercise in writing and go down to the smallest detail.
If you really did this exercise, you will probably have found that there is much more to gain than to lose.
Suppose your goal is to quit your job and start your own business with your passion.
If everything really goes wrong, you will again find a job as an employee if in doubt. A good staff is always needed.
I even claim that your negotiating position will be better after a failed self-employment, before that: Many bosses appreciate it if you have the courage to take risks and have gained experience as a self-employed person.
Fear of failure is often the same as all other fears: fear is worse than failure itself.
You should understand that fears want to protect you because in the past new things were often associated with a danger to your life. The known, however, was a guarantee of survival.
To accept the fear and be thankful for it. She means well with you and wants to protect you.
2. Change your expectations and you will no longer fail
Failure to fear often arises from our exaggerated and unrealistic expectations.
For this reason, I only approach most things with an expectation that is in my power and that I can influence 100%.
Suppose you work as a seller. If you start talking to the expectation that the customer will buy, it cannot go as you imagine, because whether a customer buys is never 100% in your power.
What’s 100% in your power is how well you prepare for the conversation, that you actually carry out the conversation and whether you ask the customer the final question and close the sale.
If you approach the matter with such expectations, it is already a success that you have conducted the interview and asked the final question.
Even if the customer says “no”, you will gain experience.
If you continue, learn from your conversations and don’t give up, the first customers will soon say “yes” because “yes” lives in the same country where “no” lives.
If you change your expectations of things that are in your power, if you really act, it is almost impossible to fail.
3. Change your attitude towards failure
Success never comes in a linear way.
Accordingly, one of the most important success factors is how you deal with setbacks and whether you continue to work disciplined on your goals.
A little change in your thoughts can help you reduce your fear of failure:
What if everything in life didn’t happen to you but instead happen for you?
It is often the case that we waste too much energy because our expectations and reality do not match.
By doing so, you stand against life, where you can only lose.
It is better to go with life and see failure as an opportunity because it is often the case that you can learn a lot from it. And you don’t know how you will need it again in your later life.
Life always goes on somehow and when I look back at my life so far, much of what I rated as “failure” at the time is the best thing that could have happened to me.
I’m sure it will be the same for you …
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill (British statesman)
Conclusion – fear of failure
Failure to fear often results from wrong expectations and exaggerated perfectionism.
By definition, it means failure if you are unsuccessful in your endeavour. But since temporary failure is a natural part of the learning process, you only fail when you stop and give up.
Since you can’t take all eventualities into account anyway, you don’t have to plan everything down to the smallest detail. It is better to just start and then make adjustments.
See interim setbacks as feedback from which you can learn a lot. The faster you fail, the more certain you are.
Over time, you will learn that fear of failure is usually much worse than failure in yourself.
To deal better with the fear of failure, I recommend three things:
- What are you afraid of failing? Suppose you overcome your fear: what are the realistic worst-case and best-case scenarios? There is probably much more to win than there is to lose.
- Change your expectations to things that are 100% in your power.
- Internalize the attitude that everything in life happens for you.
Now, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?