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The fear of failure is probably the biggest single thing responsible for people not living up to their potential. Nothing has such a strong grip on holding you back from your dreams, aspirations and deepest desires as this one.

How can you overcome the fear of failure?

How can you start to courageously look this fear in the eye and still take the risk of going the next step?

Why you are fearful

There is a reason for your fear.  As we found out in the Little Guide to Face Your Fears: Fear is one of the most basic human emotions. And fear has a strong and important purpose: it is a basic survival mechanism happening in response to a perceived threat. Fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response).

So when you are in fear, there is a decision to be made: Either you give in and pull back or you push through your fear and take action.

In one of the emails I promised to answer Henk wrote me:

Fear of failure. I’m scared of failing. Scared of failing when it comes to approaching girls, scared of failing when it comes to running businesses, and scared of failing when it comes to taking risks in general. How can I get over this, and any general tips for these specific problems?

First: Get aware of the process

“Fear is an obstacle for some people, but it is an illusion to me.” ~ Michael Jordan

The first thing that will help is if you get aware of the fear building up. You have this choice to make. And you want to face your fear.

If you become conscious of this process you can make a conscious choice. Otherwise it may happen unconsciously and that means you don’t have control over it.

Becoming aware of fear already can lessen its power over you, since you can look at it and even look through it.

What do you really have to lose?

Ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

If you answer this question truthfully, the whole thing will lose a little of it’s death-grip over you.

The consequences are usually not as bad as the fear behind them. By seeing this you can make it easier to take action.

Dismantle your fear of failure

If we look deeper we can see that the important thing is how you interpret what would happen when you fail.

What would failing mean to you?

For instance if you fail your business, do you get afraid to try again or do you get eager to restart with what you have learned? Make it better?

Turn fear against itself

Ask yourself: “What if I don’t take action?”

How will your life turn out when you miss this opportunity? How frustrated will you be?

If you have to, become fearful of what happens if you don’t take action.

Focus on what you want

Keep your goal present in your mind. That can pull you through the fear since you have your eyes firmly focussed on your outcome. Fear is then just one of many little challenges you have to take to get there.

The stronger your vision of your outcome, the more power it has to push you through the fear of failure. Up to a point where you are certain that you will succeed. Then nothing can stand in your way, not even fear.

So make your goal big and bright and focus on it with all you’ve got. [Tweet this!]

Fear of Failure in Business

What did Edison say after he invested the light-bulb? He said: “‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

John C. Maxwell takes this idea even further in ”Failing Forward”:

“The major difference between achieving people and average people is their perception of and response to failure.” [Tweet this!]

The point is: there is no such thing as failure. You want to change your mindset and tell yourself that every so-called failure is nothing more than a valuable learning experience.

To succeed in business you have to take (calculated) risks. Try to find the excitement in it. Go with the flow. And stay hungry to learn.

Fear of Failure in Dating

This is often the fear of rejection (Read: Why Rejection is Better Than Inaction).

If you get rejected, does that diminish your self-confidence? Or can you stay strong inside and just accept the event?

And there maybe an even greater chance that you’ll succeed. And that’s true for every situation.

But you’ll never know until you try… [Tweet this!]

9 comments

  1. Comment by Vincent

    Vincent Reply July 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Turn fear against itself. I’m very glad you mentioned that Myrko.

    I genuinely think that inaction is worse than failure itself. If you fail, you don’t go further or get whatever it is you were after. That and you get a hit to your ego if you’re that type of person. If you refuse to take action at all you still stay where you are except with exactly a 0% chance of getting what you wanted. At least if you went for it in the first place you had a fighting chance.

    Rejection gives you closure. At least you know. If you don’t take action you’re going to be stuck wandering around wondering “what if?” until you finally move on. Closure comes much faster with failure.

  2. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply July 23, 2013 at 8:15 am

    @Vincent, that’s true. If there wouldn’t be the emotional side that gives us this short bad feeling when our ego gets a beating. Then it’s a question how we can deal with this beating and what meaning we give to it. Ideally it’s not effecting us at all.

  3. Comment by Henk

    Henk Reply July 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Dear Myrko,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer one of my questions in an complete article, covering every aspect of it and breaking it down in small simple steps. Words can’t express the gratitude I have.

    This article is really helpful in multiple ways. Turning fear against itself is a very interesting approach, and I never thought about dismantling my fears. I’ve printed the whole article out and pasted it on my wall. Time to try using my capabilities till the fullest and see where I land.

    Henk

  4. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply July 25, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Your most welcome Henk! I’m happy that it’s of use for you!

    Let me know if you have follow-up questions!

  5. Comment by Linda Marie stalter

    Linda Marie stalter Reply July 29, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Hello Myrko,
    Today is he first time I ever discovered your writings, many years have plagued me with fear, anxiety, and such. After reading your works it’s amazingly makes so much sense. thank you.

  6. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply July 29, 2013 at 11:49 am

    You’re most welcome Linda!

  7. Comment by Ianina

    Ianina Reply August 1, 2013 at 12:13 am

    I have written down many things that you’ve written in your blog. This is a post that I’ll print!…and put with the other printed posts of yours :-)

  8. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply August 1, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Very nice to know, Ianina! :-)

  9. Comment by G

    G Reply January 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    3 Words: Get over it.

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