Friday, 14 March 2014

5 Things You Can Do to Cope With the Fear of Failure

                                   Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

The fear of failure is a powerful motivator. Unfortunately, it's not a positive one. I'm sure we've all been overwhelmed with the inexplicable feeling that no matter how much effort we put into a project, it's bound to fail. This is an inevitable part of the human experience. What is not inevitable, is that you will allow this feeling to paralyze you. In this article I'll look at 5 things you can do to avoid being overwhelmed by fear.

Maintain Your Focus

If we can maintain our focus on the project at hand, we will go a long way in our battle to avoid being overwhelmed by fear. The idea of burying yourself in your work is not such a bad thing. If you are convinced you have something valuable to contribute get to it! The world is full of people with diverse interests. You can be sure, there are others that share yours. It's a question of focus, not of failure.

Consider what's worse. Will you have more regret because you attempted something and had little success, or because you didn't bother to start? The answers obvious. I look back on my life and I have no doubt that my failures have made me a more complete person. Those learning experiences have been very beneficial.

Maintain your focus. If you believe in what you are doing the effort is worthwhile in and of itself. Even if it's just a learning experience for yourself. What you learn from your initial efforts will provide you with invaluable experience in the future.

Consult Other Sources

This is a topic I continuously revisit. If you want to succeed you must consult other sources. Research your topic! There are undoubtedly countless others who have come before you. There's nothing wrong with using their expertise as a guide to drive you forward.

The works of Aristotle influenced the likes of Carl Sagan. This doesn't mean Aristotle's view of the Universe was as complex as Carl Sagan's. In fact, it was very primitive by comparison. But if it wasn't for the ideas that Aristotle first explored, Sagan wouldn't have had his starting point.

It is perfectly okay to use the works of others as a starting point - as an inspiration. It's the direction you choose from this starting point that makes your work your own. 

If you think about it, the first caveman to develop a primitive flute carved out of animal bone was the initial inspiration for the works of Mozart. I'm sure none of us would compare the works of Mozart to that ancient ancestor playing on his primitive instrument, but you would never have had one without the other!

Seek Advice From Others You Trust

We all have people we look to as confidants. People we trust. They don't have to be experts in your field as long as they are willing to listen they can be invaluable to your efforts. This might be a friend, a spouse, a coworker. It doesn't matter as long as you trust them! 

Quite often our first inclination is to hide our efforts from those we trust because of our fear of failure, yet these are the very people that are best positioned to help you succeed! Often their answers will be honest - you might not always get the reaction you were hoping for, but they will be much more willing to listen than those that don't have a vested interest in your success.

Keep Your Eye On The Prize!

It's easy to accept failure. Its much harder to accept success. How many times have you thought to yourself I should just give up on this, it's not the worth the effort, I'm going to fail anyway? Well try looking at it a little differently. 

So what if you don't achieve everything you set out to accomplish. The journey you took to get to there, is a success in and of itself. The completion of a project can be very rewarding. It fills you with a sense of pride. I did this! That's what success feels like. So keep your eye on the Prize. Always see your project through to the end.

Be Willing To Accept Failure

Face it. Not everything we do will end in the outcome we originally desired. Sometimes you will fail in what you set out to do. Don't let it overwhelm you. Look at where you went wrong. What could you have done differently?

So you failed. So what? It really isn't the end of the world. Only if you let it be. Each little failure, contributes to our future success. It defines us. It builds our character. The only true failure is when we fail to learn and grow from our experiences.

How have you used your past failures to contribute to your success? Leave a comment. I'd love to hear how your own experiences have helped you grow. Failure is really just another word for experience!