What is it that drives you, motivates you, and compels you to do something…to become something greater than who you currently are? Every one of you reading this wants to do something, build something, or experience something more in life. Some of you are already out there doing it. For those of you who aren’t, what’s holding you back? Chances are, your limitations are defined by an underlying fear of some kind. For most, this fear presents itself as one of the most menacing and intimidating fearful accomplices — the fear of failure.
So, there you are, faced with an opportunity to try something new, to seize the moment that will fundamentally change your life as you know it. There is no apparent reason to avoid going “all-in” and fully immerse yourself in the promises that await. Yet, you hesitate, despite everything begging you to take advantage of the opportunity. What’s that about anyway?
The fear of failure robs more people from experiencing an elevated lifestyle than most any other form of physiological or psychological obstacle or distraction. Authorities often refer to this as “getting in your own way.” Well, what if there was a method to get out of your own way? Turns out there are actually several things you can do to virtually eliminate this fear. Let’s explore four of them.
1. Your First Time
Think of the first time you accomplished something. It could be anything. It doesn’t really matter if it’s something recent or something from your past. The first time you drove a car to the first day on the job to the first time you attempt most anything, you are unfamiliar with just what lies ahead.
The lack of familiarity and uncertainty can be a rather fearful experience. When faced with uncertainty, our mind quickly jumps into protection mode and “warns” us of the potential ways we’d be better off not following through.
What if you fail?
What if you get injured?
What if you lose money or credibility?
These kinds of questions are all indicators of a fundamental fear of failure based on the unknown. However, chances are you did not have that same level of fear and apprehension the second and subsequent times you actually took action…unless you actually did fail miserably at your first attempt. Why? Because you’ve…
2. Been There, Done That!
Uncertainty affects us more than the fear of failure. That’s right, the fear of failure is actually the result of your unfamiliarity, which is directly associated with inexperience. So, the fundamental solution to a lack of familiarity is to find ways to overcome this aspect of fear. Find a way to expose yourself to the experience of whatever it is you fear. If you want to start a business but are afraid of what it may take, try to find a business you can launch while you’re still able to keep your day job and pay your bills. If you want to learn to swim…you’ve got to get in the water. Just don’t get in over your head (metaphor intended).
Once you have “been there, done that,” the task takes on an entirely different perspective as you become familiar with the various ways you can control, operate, or manipulate the situation. The result is typically a set of (familiar) circumstances that gradually begin to empower you as the fear of failure subsides.
3. Compared to Who?
Have you ever watched from the “sidelines” of life and wondered, “If she can do it, I can certainly do it just as well, if not better”? Take a look around and watch someone who has succeeded in whatever area you wish to accomplish and ask yourself what it took for them to succeed. Chances are, you’ll eventually see little difference beyond the fact that they were able to succeed despite facing some of the very same fears you now face. The truth is, most of these people have no special advantage outside their ability to face the fear and do it anyway. You can do the same.
How many times have you seen ordinary people do extraordinary things? It actually happens a lot more than we readily care to admit. We pause in awe at their accomplishments while wondering just how they managed to do what they do best. The sad truth is that we rarely ever see the hours of preparation, the struggles, and the defeats or setbacks they encounter along the way. These things are what make ordinary people extraordinary.
4. Better than the Alternative
I have always had a fondness for watching people win as a result of acting in the face of fear and doubt. I particularly enjoy it when I see people follow through despite their hesitations and reservations. When I witness these victories, I’m reminded of a quote I keep close when these fears present themselves to me.
“You can have, do, or be anything you want in this life as long as you’re willing to help enough other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Some of my greatest personal accomplishments have come in spite of the fear of failure. To mitigate that fear, I do everything I can to consider the choices facing me — I analyze, evaluate, and prepare according to the situation that presents itself. Most of the time I have only the bare minimum of information, but it’s typically enough to provide the gut check I need to act. Then, I act…and adjust as necessary. The strategy has served me well throughout most of my life. Perhaps you can give it try.
What if something (seemingly) so hard simply doesn’t feel worth pursuing? Well, quitting is the easy option, but completely robbing yourself of the chance to try is tragic, especially if you know deep down inside that you’re meant to experience the transformation. The real truth is, we’re all going to die one day. Wouldn’t it be better knowing you tried rather than dying with the burden of regret? I know many good people who have expressed the pain of their regret to me on a myriad of missed opportunities along the path of their lives. I don’t plan to be among them when my number comes up.
Until Next time…