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Overcoming fear of failure
It can be tough to accept that you might have a fear of failure. But it can be something that will seriously hold you back in life, possibly without you even realising. That's why we put together some quick and easy life-hacks that will allow you to boost your career to new levels. Want to be more attractive, earn more and enjoy life more even on bad days? Read on ...
What are your goals at the minute? Find a job? Grow your personal network? Get that promotion? Well those things are all quite easily achieved when it comes down to it, so why haven't you nailed them already? We think we might know what's holding you back, and we think we can fix it.
That's right, we're hitting you with a swimming pool metaphor. But seriously, no one ever won Olympic gold by lurking in the shallows their whole life. Sometimes you have to take the plunge and get yourself into the deep end. Just like Eleanor Roosevelt said, you should aim to do one thing every day that scares you.
We know that this is easier said than done. Even the bravest of us have probably been irrationally afraid of something at some point, such as giving a presentation to a board of directors. So first, let's try and understand why we might be afraid of failure, and how this might affect us.
Know your enemy
Fear of failure is actually such a well-recognised phenomenon that there's even a proper name for it - Atychiphobia (pronounced: a-ticky-phobia). As with any phobia, this is characterised by the fact that the fear involved is unreasonable and irrational - because there's actually nothing to be afraid of.
A lion tamer being afraid of failure in their job probably wouldn't represent Atychiphobia - because if they fail then they could actually be in serious trouble!
But if you're afraid of failure in something as simple as taking on new responsibilities in your role or meeting a new client - and your fears have started to seem greater than the potential benefit that a situation could bring well ... we have a problem.
Read the signs
So, how do you recognise when you have an irrational fear of something? The very fact that it's irrational would make it pretty hard to spot, right? Well in this case, there are a number of things you could look for in your own behaviour in order to 'self-diagnose' - including:
- Low self-esteem.
- A tendency towards perfectionism that makes it difficult to finish the task in question.
- A tendency towards procrastination (ok, guilty as charged!).
- A reluctance to try out new things.
We should note at this point that if your fear has begun to affect your life to the extent that it's manifesting itself physically or causing you to worry for your safety, then you should contact your physician to check that it's not indicative of a more serious condition. It should go without saying that depression and other mental health disorders can become very serious if they go unchecked.
Of course it could also be the case that you simply work in a fear-based workplace. These type of firms do exist, unfortunately (and if you've worked for one in the past, you'll know exactly what we mean). In this case, the question you should be asking yourself is really whether you should be looking for a new job and an employer who will value the contribution you have to make to their business.
Free your mind
If you've read the above and think that you might have an irrational fear of failure, then erm fear not. We know just how to help. Read on, learn how to reverse the cycle that's been keeping you down, and maybe even bag yourself that office at the end of the corridor with the big window.
The first thing to accept here is that it's absolutely ok to be afraid, and it's absolutely ok to fail. In fact, when you think about it, bravery wouldn't really be bravery if you weren't afraid of whatever it was you were doing in the first place.
Keep your eye on the target, and remember that fear is often all that's keeping you from doing or getting something awesome. You should always hope for the best - but also be prepared for the worst.
In that vein, it's worth looking at just what the very worst case scenario possible actually is. How bad can it be? Often, listing all the possible outcomes (both positive and negative) of something will illustrate to you the fact that actually, failure wouldn't even be that bad - but that success could be very cool indeed! This approach will even allow you to make contingency plans for each possible outcome if you want.
Do it anyway!
Once you've listed everything that could realistically result from an action, the next thing is to do it. The bonus here is the fact that because you're less afraid of what you're doing, you'll be thinking straighter and therefore be more likely to succeed. So once you've plucked up the courage to share your ideas at the next team meeting, you'll also have the clarity of thought to get them across well! 'Fear is the mind-killer' and all that.
Your increased confidence will also translate into increased magnetism in social situations - because confidence and charisma are often interpreted in a very similar manner (it will work wonders for your networking). You should be able to see by now how breaking out of the vicious cycle of fear of failure will allow you to get into an upwards spiral - as your successes inspire you to have more and more confidence in your actions. The sky really is the limit once you get to this point.
Increased success will even allow you to deal with failures in a much more positive way (because they WILL continue to crop up every now and again!). By paying attention to where you went wrong though, you can provide yourself with feedback and learn from your mistakes - again becoming a stronger and more successful person/worker in the process.
Once you're well on your way to becoming more confident in your actions, you'll probably want to take a look at our advice on building a personal brand to see how you can supercharge the whole process of becoming more successful. Don't forget to drop us a line from your super-yacht to let us know how you're getting on either. Ok, maybe not, but hey; it's important to dream.