Fear of failure is one of the greatest fears people have. It is a genuinely scary thing for many people, and often the reason that individuals do not attempt the things they would like to accomplish. But the only true failure is failure to make the attempt. If you don't try, you gain nothing, and life is too short a thing to waste.
If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not improving. Henry Ford said, “Failure is merely an opportunity to begin again knowledgeably.” Failure can be an inevitable stepping-stone to great achievement.
Nobody likes to make mistakes. However, the simple reality of life is that at some point, all of us are going to be wrong. That’s just life. We are going to make mistakes. A colleague of mine always says, “Learn to fail quickly.” Essentially, if you are going to fail you need to learn to do it quickly in order to get the data (results) that you can use to gradually improve. The faster you get at learning from unforeseen circumstances and outcomes, the faster you can find a solution that truly adds value.
Although we all make mistakes, fear of failure doesn’t have to cripple you. Take these steps to overcome your fear of failure and move yourself forward to getting the result you desire:
Step One: Take action. Bold, decisive action. Do something scary. Fear of failure immobilizes you. To overcome this fear, you must act. When you act, act boldly.
Action gives you the power to change the circumstances or the situation. You must overcome the inertia by doing something. Be brave and just do it. If it doesn’t work out the way you want, then do something else. But do something now.
Step Two: Persist. Successful people just don’t give up. They keep trying different approaches to achieving their outcomes until they finally get the results they want. Unsuccessful people try one thing that doesn’t work and then give up. Often people give up when they are on the threshold of succeeding.
Step Three: Don’t take failure personally. Failure is about behavior, outcomes, and results. Failure is not a personality characteristic. Although what you do may not give you the result you wanted, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. Because you made a mistake, doesn’t mean that you are a failure.
Step Four: Do things differently. If what you are doing isn’t working, do something else. There is an old saying, "if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got." If you’re not getting the results you want, then you must do something different. Most people stop doing anything at all, and this guarantees they won’t be successful.
Step Five: Treat the experience as an opportunity to learn. Think of failure as a learning experience. What did you learn from the experience that will help you in the future? How can you use the experience to improve yourself or your situation? Ask yourself these questions:
(1) What was the mistake?
(2) Why did it happen?
(3) How could it have been prevented?
(4) How can I do better next time?
Then use what you learned from the experience to do things differently so you get different results next time. Learn from the experience or ignore it.
In today’s business world, companies must fail forward fast. We learn by making mistakes. So if we want to learn at a faster pace, we must make mistakes at a faster pace. The key is that you must learn from the mistakes so you make so you don’t repeat them.