I have a massive fear of failure. I’d probably say it’s my biggest fear and sadly, it’s probably a lot more debilitating than heights or spiders.
Like a lot of other fears, being afraid of failure can definitely overtake your life. In short, I can easily say that being afraid of failure has stopped me taking some amazing opportunities and doing some exciting things because I’ve been too scared that I wouldn’t succeed.
It’s taken me a little while but I’ve learnt how to deal with my fear and how to deal with failure when it happens.
Dealing with failure is simple. It’s all about the way you look at it. Do you think that the world’s most successful people were happy to fail? Of course not! Here’s the singular thing that sets successful people apart from the rest of us; they wouldn’t have viewed their failure as a setback, they would have viewed it as a learning curve or a stepping stone. How else would they have had the motivation to try again?
Failure is all about how you view it. You can either view it as a negative, the unsuccessful end to your goal or you can view it as a bit of a setback, a detour on the way to your goal.
Take these situations as examples:
When you fail a class, don’t dwell on how you didn’t work hard enough or put enough effort in. Assess where you went wrong, retake the class and fix your mistakes.
When you fail your driving test, don’t overthink the mistake you made. Get back in the car, practice a little more and retake the test.
When you don’t receive a call back about that job interview, don’t think about what you could have, would have said. Email the person who interviewed you, ask for some feedback and see what you can improve on.
When you receive negative feedback on some work, don’t get upset by the things you did wrong. Focus on the feedback that says what you can improve on, fix your work and ask for more feedback.
It’s so easy to see how you can turn your failure into motivation. It’s not always as easy to put it into practice.
I’m not gonna lie, failure hurts. No matter who you are, how many times you’ve failed or how positive and optimistic you are. It sucks to fail. I’m not saying you’re not allowed to feel hurt or upset by your failing. If anything, you should definitely take some time to feel whatever it is you’re feeling – angry, hurt, sad, disappointed or frustrated. Once you’re sick of feeling sorry for yourself, assess yourself and your situation. Figure out what you need to do to move forward. Do you need to resit an exam? Do you need to schedule in some time for more revision? Do you need to email or call someone for some feedback? Get your game plan into place and get started.
If you do nothing, you’ve let failure win. If you do nothing, you’re letting yourself down.
Remember: everyone fails, it’s how you deal with it that sets you apart.
How do you deal with failure or setbacks? Was there a time in your life where you had to learn to deal differently?