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I bet you thought I was heading down an entirely different path…
The one where my short-lived blogging career went up in spectacular flames right before your eyes. Well, I don’t know where your mind went because I’m talking about FEAR; specifically, fear of failure. It’s another one of those four-letter words with powerful and often crippling consequences. But who says you can’t take fear by the horns and discover something truly amazing about yourself? Like maybe just how strong you really are once you expose and ultimately face your fear.
Before we can find out how to control the positive characteristics of fear we need to look at how it keeps us from achieving our best. It’s often a voice from within reminding us of our past failures and it can stop us dead in our tracks. Somehow this voice is louder than the one encouraging you to move forward, and wins more often than it should. The good news is a few small but empowering steps lead to changes in the mind, body and soul.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure
1. It’s important to recognize that almost everything you do presents an opportunity to fail. Did your parents encourage you to quit tying your shoes after your first very unsuccessful try? And if you’re a parent do you tell your kids it’s okay to quit when they miss a goal in soccer or get anything less than an A on an assignment?
2. Consider all possible outcomes. Fear of the unknown can be more paralyzing than knowing what’s ahead. Remove that fear by considering potential outcomes of your decision. For example, if you’re considering switching careers, a few clicks on Google and you can access job opportunities by location and salary by job title.
3. Learn to think more positively. Not only will this build your self-confidence, but it will help you cancel out the negative voice from deep within. This may take practice, but you’ll find once you do it regularly, negative people in your life will really begin to annoy you.
4. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Begin with not only an idea of how you want it to go, but what you’ll do if it doesn’t go your way. Sometimes events occur and throw you off your course. If you take a few minutes to consider the “what if’s” when your start a new project you’ll be better prepared for the bumps in the road when/if they happen.
5. Set a goal. You hear this all the time, but a key part of goal setting is to visualize working toward it. Pay attention to what Olympians say during their interviews with the press. They certainly didn’t see themselves losing!
The most successful people in the world faced failure. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skill. Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University. Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, is a high school dropout.
What’s the upside of fear?
Believe it or not, you can actually outsmart your brain. By facing, even embracing fear, we can trick our brain into releasing a calming chemical that reduces fear and provides a feeling of comfort. The more we face our fears, the more we succeed in mastering them. Not only does this get easier and easier, but it also gives us a sense of accomplishment.
Today’s Take-Away: Fear of failure isn’t actual failure; it’s your brain sending you negative input about possibilities, not actual outcomes. The key to changing your mindset is to take one small step at a time to help build your confidence as you move forward. Recognize you may trip and possibly even fall, but getting up is a natural next step.