“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr
When I was assigned the task of writing about fear of failure and how to overcome it, I realized that there are numerous articles on the topic that already exist. So my next thought was: How can I contribute to this topic?
I walked down memory lane and reflected how the fear had sometimes been so overpowering that I ended up doing nothing at all. That phobia of failure, of making mistakes kept me from doing so much.
It was during such moments, however, that I reinvented myself and found ways to go against my immediate urge to give up and run, to worry and conquered my demons. I read up about other people’s experiences and what advice they had to offer on how to triumph over fear.
Listed below are some of the tips that I found very effective in times of failure and have tried to follow in real life.
#1 It’s All in Your Mind
Did you know that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real? Kathryn Sandford, writer, speaker and coach on reinvention and change asks us to embrace fear and control it rather than let our fears take control of us.
The mind is everything. What you think you become. – Lord Buddha
In her article, she mentions that fear resides only in our minds and can get the better of us, if we fail to reign it in.
The fear of failure or rejection has the potential to make you fall physically ill, but once you know that it is not real, you can get the better of it.
#2 Do Not Regret
Regrets can range from smaller things such as not being able to drive a car, to bigger things like not attending college.
But regrets can be worse than failures, points out entrepreneur and author Faisal Hoque, who notes how lying in bed at night and imagining what could have been done is far worse than failing multiple times while trying to do it.
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” – Lucille Ball
Often the panic, anxiety and fear of failing is only temporary and you can overcome it, but the regret for not doing it is final and will last a lifetime. Hoque points out that fear of regret is the only thing that is powerful enough to overcome the fear of failure.
#3 Always Ask for Help
As Molly Cain, Contributor on Forbes.com, points out in her tips, that asking for help is an integral part of overcoming your fears.
I remember the time when I moved to the U.S. and was scheduled to go for a driving test for my license. I felt an overwhelming sense of fear caused by a new place, a foreign accent, unfamiliar customs and of course, stricter road rules as compared to my native country, India, and was almost sure I was going to fail the test. The fear of failing was overwhelming.
“Sometimes the only answer people are looking for when they ask for help is that they won’t have to face the problem alone.” – Mark Amend
However, as soon as I spoke to a few friends who have been through the test earlier, they helped me select a suitable tester who was gentler than the others and also gave me a list of things I would be asked to demonstrate.
I realized I would be in the dark and imagining a lot of things inside my head if I hadn’t asked for help and it was an essential learning for me, that I intended to follow in the future. It’s just like starting a business or startup. There will be things you cannot do and will need others to help you accomplish your goals.
#4 Failure is Just a Matter of Perspective
It’s simple: you can’t win it all in this one life. Nobody goes through life without failing at something. Once you have figured this out inside your head you will know that failure is inevitable, what matters is how hard you tried.
Caroline Smith, working with The Mind Tools team, talks about how failure is a matter of perspective in her article and points out how you can lose glorious opportunities in life because of your fear of failure.
“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie
She cites the case of Michael Jordan, the world famous basketball player, who was dropped from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t find his skills enough for the team.
Had Jordan given up basketball on that note, the world would have one less talent to marvel at and he may never have become anywhere near as successful as he is today.
#5 Visualizing Obstacles Can Help
While fear is a very common feeling, many who succeed in overcoming it are the ones who fight it in uncommon and ingenious ways.
Vanessa Loder, Contributor on Forbes.com, writes about a study in 2011 involving two groups of students, one who imagined a week ahead full of fun and zero challenges, and the other imagining a normal week.
“Obstacles, of course, are developmentally necessary: they teach kids strategy, patience, critical thinking, resilience and resourcefulness.” – Naomi Wolf
Turns out the group visualizing a normal week fared better in dealing with challenges since they had taken time to visualize their obstacles and also figured out how to fight them.
Imagine how useful this would be when you want to start a business.
In real life if you fear something, try visualizing how you can overcome it and jot down strategies that you can use.
Remember the Boggart classes Harry Potter attended in the third year of Hogwarts?
The students faced their fears chin up and with their concentration and intelligence defeated the things they feared the most. Being fearless isn’t about not being afraid, but about overcoming the fear.
So, don’t be afraid to fail, jump into the task and enjoy the fear, till you emerge as a success.
- Fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real
- The fear is only in your mind.
- Never, ever regret, it’s worse than failure
- Always, always ask for help
- Failure is just a matter of perspective
- Visualize obstacles and strategize accordingly to overcome failure
- Failure is inevitable, what matters is how hard you tried.
So how do you overcome the fear of failure? Do you have any other point to add here or an experience to share?