“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”Paulo Coelho
Failure. It’s one of those things that even the strongest, most intelligent, most confident of us fear. Whether it’s starting a new endeavor or succeeding at the one we’re currently in, it’s difficult to escape the concern in the back of our mind that we might screw it up.
Some people hold the mindset of “failure isn’t an option,” and others lean towards the idea that “the only way to fail is by not trying.” I strongly hold to the latter mindset, and believe that that’s the best way to flourish in both your professional and personal life.
One of my biggest personal failures was my first attempt at moving to New York City. After just a few months here, I let the city eat me alive, and I ended up back in suburban Pennsylvania. I swore I’d never attempt the city life again. I’d like to blame the failure on being an inexperienced and naive 19-year-old, and for a few years I tried to forget about the experience all together. But the truth is that without that failure, I may have never learned the crucial lessons that allowed me to successfully move back to New York three years later. So now, as a proud and content dweller of NYC, I wouldn’t trade that failure for the world.
Here are my four ways to overcome the fear of failure, and why doing so is so important.
1. Accept that failure is a reality.
Let’s be real here. No matter how much you learn and move forward from a failure in life, the fact of the matter is that failure does happen – even to the best of us. But you know what? Who cares! I’ve personally found that as soon as you accept failure as a reality, it won’t be this big, frightening thing that you once thought it was. You’d be surprised at how much freedom that gives you to move forward, try new things, and experience successes you might not have otherwise.
2.Remember past failures.
No really – think about the last failure you had in life. Did your world come crashing down around you? Even if it did (it has for me), chances are you’ve moved on, gotten past it, and have become stronger and wiser because of it. So the next time you find yourself not taking a certain chance or being crippled by the fear of failure, remember that you’ve overcome failure before…and you will again.
3.Listen to other people’s stories.
Something that has always encouraged me when it comes to taking risks despite the threat of failure is learning the stories of people who have achieved great things, or at least have gone through similar situations. Some of the biggest innovators and most successful people will admit to having gone through multiple failures before arriving to where they are now. The reason why brings me to my last point…
4.Learn, reflect, and learn some more.
You can study and memorize facts all day long, but there’s nothing that compares to the learning that comes from personal experience. Like I said before, failure is just a part of life – the key is how you deal with it. Not only is overcoming failure a huge step in building character, but reflecting on how and why the failure took place is what will set you up for success moving forward.
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Remember that failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of success.” – Unknown