Updated: Apr 29, 2022
J.K. Rowling said, "It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default."
Nobody's perfect; all of us make mistakes; we will all experience failure many times during our lifetime.
You Have Nothing To Fear From Failure
All successful people experience failure. If you try to succeed in life without failing, you will be successful at nothing. Failure isn't the final word; it isn't the end of your vision, nor does it define you.
How does a fear of failure develop?
Two contributors that will foster a fear of failure are upbringing and unaddressed trauma.
Family Environment Many Psychologists point to an unhealthy fixation on success in the home. Parents can sometimes be discouraged by setting family expectations too high during childhood, leaving their children thinking they will never be "good enough."
Traumatic Experiences Young and old alike experience the reality or even a perceived traumatic failure; without proper input, they may avoid difficulties for fear of repeating that experience. Adverse outcomes can cause those with a fear of failing again to lower the bar to minimize risks.
John C. Maxwell writes, "Every time you fail, you have a choice: to take responsibility and do things that lead to future success or to avoid the temporary pain of responsibility and make excuses. If we respond right to failure by taking responsibility, we can look at our failure and learn from it.
As a result, we won't be as prone to making the same mistake again. However, if we bail out on our responsibility, if we don't examine our failures, we don't learn from them. As a result, we often experience the same failures and losses over and over again." (1)
The fear of failure begins not in the event but in the mind. Our thoughts, not our failure, hold us back from viewing our mistakes as opportunities. Jack Canfield says, "Everything you want is on the other side of fear."
The fear of failure leads to an irrational ongoing attachment to making mistakes. If you're a perfectionist, you may have already set the bar too high. Unrealistic expectations can cause anxiety and eventually lead to self-doubt.
3 Ideas for Extracting the Wins From Your Losses
John Wooden said, "Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be"
1. Failure is Your Friend
Like any good friendship, ground rules make the relationship work. Once we come to an understanding of boundaries, we have clarity.
Failure can be your friend if you're familiar with how it operates.
Failure is an event, not a person, so it's never personal.
Failure speaks volumes of insights if we know how to listen.
Failure is a treasure trove of wealth if we know where to dig.
Failure reveals the facts for correcting our missteps.
2. Be Honest with Yourself
Dishonesty about friends and ourselves ruins friendships. Self-awareness gets to the why behind our thoughts and actions. Just as making things personal destroys friendships, so will it cloud our thinking altering our perceptions of how we failed. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is failure.
In the end. If you extract and utilize the cause of your failures and succeed the next time around, have you really failed?
3. Trust Your Instincts
Knowing failure isn't an enemy, but a friend clears our mind of the baggage of fear. An unbiased examination of how we failed allows us to consider refining and reset our objectives, this will realign us with our vision and purpose. In an organizational "reset" or realignment the same advice applies.
Having a Master Operating System eliminates fear of failing, bringing clarity and intentionality to your business, aligning your organization's Purpose, Vision, Values,"(2) restoring confidence.
"The value of experimentation is not the trying. It's the trying again after the experiment fails. Quality effective leaders have the confidence to trust others to try, succeed, and sometimes to fail."
– Simon Sinek
(1) John Maxwell "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn."
(2) M.O.S. Business Model Alignment™ https://bit.ly/3HG041I
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co. ***