Think about the last time you failed. Was it completely a failure or were you able to learn something from the experience? If you’re human, you’ve probably experienced some level of failure over the years. Now my guess is that if you are reading this, the failure(s) did not kill or severely injure you (just my hypothesis) even though you may have thought otherwise at the time.
As children, we learn how to get back up after a fall. During our early attempts to walk, we generally have someone who helps us get back up. This “helping hand” shows us that we can indeed get back up after a failure. Over time we learn to get ourselves back up and it is this ability to overcome that shows us we need not fear failure. Failure is simply a chance to check off what did not work and is pivotal in getting us to what does work. In short, rather than allowing any incident to cause us to feel like a failure we would do better to focus on the fact that one particular experience failed.
At times like these identifying what went well and what could have been done better will help identify opportunities to improve in the future. Those opportunities can then lead to new personal growth, the excitement of meeting new challenges, or the thrill of living for those things in which you believe. Here are a few ideas to help you manage the fear of failure next time you have an opportunity to make a difference:
- Confront the fear head on. Why do you feel it? Is it justified? If it is, what can you do to eliminate or reduce it?
- Look at past failures from a new perspective. Failing to reach an individual goal does not make you a failure it only means you did not reach one particular goal.
- Identify benefits that come from attempting to achieve a goal such as: practical education of making the effort, opportunity to practice specific skills, and recognition that meeting some goals and failing to meet others is a natural part of life.
- Recognize that you are not likely to achieve significant goals without some failures. Those failures allow learning opportunities that ultimately contribute to your personal growth and to your professional contributions.