Fear of Failure: Do You Have It?

Sections of this topic

    What do these people all have in common?

    • Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times
    • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
    • Abraham Lincoln lost six elections before being elected to office.
    • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, he was told, he lacked creativity.
    • Steven Spielberg applied to USC Cinema School twice and was turned down both times.
    • When Thomas Edison was a child he was told by his teacher that was too stupid to learn anything.

    It is that the all persevered until they succeeded. If they had a fear of failing again, they did not succumb but rather put any fear aside to reach their goals.

    fear of failureFear of failure is the greatest single obstacle to success in life. But here’s the kicker, it’s not failure that holds us back – it’s the fear of failure -it’s the anticipation of failure. We may tell ourselves:: “If I do this and fail, I’ll look dumb; I’ll embarrass myself; I’ll disappoint; people will think I’m not competent or I’m a loser, etc.”

    So how do we overcome the fear of failure?

    At a recent career management workshop with a group of health care professionals, I asked them to look back over their professional and personal lives and focus on this: You failed at something and yet you got back on track and moved forward. What did you do to avoid getting stuck in the fear of future failure? Here are strategies that helped them. Perhaps they can help you as well.

    • Take small steps – experiment in situations where you will succeed.
    • Take a look at what you fear and why. Check it out – is it realistic?
    • Explore you fantasy about the possibility of failure – what the worst thing that can happen?
    • Think of time you have succeeded. How did you make that happen?
    • Do things that will make you feel good about yourself and give you confidence.
    • Build on the skills you already have and branch out into new areas.
    • Share your fears with others and discover how they handled them.
    • Imagine the worst failure and then realize all the plusses that can come out of it.
    • Ask yourself if you like failure better than success. What’s got you hooked?
    • Reward yourself when accomplish something small and then move on.

    Career Success Tip:

    Get back in the saddle. It’s hard to rebuild confidence after slipping up. But don’t let it stop you from ever taking risk again. We must look at failure as what it really is, a temporary setback and an opportunity to get it right the next time. Winners win more frequently than losers because they stay in the game.

    Do you occasionally suffer from fear of failure? In what situations? How can you overcome it?

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?