Failure is hard to take, I'm sure we all agree on that. Whether the failure manifests as a low grade on a test, an unmade sale, a bunch of unsold tickets for an event or a burnt batch of cookies, nobody likes to fail. However, without failure, learning is impossible. Show me the person who never fails and I will say, that person never attempts, never risks, never jumps. Our successes are only as big as our failures. For what is failure but an attempt at success?
You know I'm right.
So how do we get ourselves from scared shirtless of failing, to taking teeny baby action steps, all the way over the big tall wall into Successland? Well, I'm no rock star but I do take on change pretty regularly, so I am kind of used to staring down my fears. As a result, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Try these six tips on for size:
1) Stare your fear down by imagining the rewards of overcoming it What if you took on a challenge as if you just could not fail? What would you do? More importantly, what would you achieve? Dream big! Make stuff. Make stuff happen! Invent a gadget better than the tablet! Write a symphony to rival Wagner! Challenge the Cake Boss to a bake off! "If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it." – William Arthur Ward
2) Remove your fear's teeth with knowledge Research what you don't know so that the unknown can't bite you. If you are afraid of what you don't know about, then guess what -- you can get un-afraid just by Googling or Wiki-ing whatever's worrying you. Don't know whether people like to eat grasshopper cupcakes? Research it. Not sure whether doggie skydiving is a viable business model? Check out key words. Look at magazines. Ask people! Knowledge is power -- in this case, the power to knock the teeth right out of your fear's big scary jaws.
3) Break it in with perspective Just like a bucking bronco. Worst case scenario: If you follow your bliss and act as if you can't fail, then fall flat on your a$$, how long will it really take you to find another way to make money? Three months? Six months? If you have enough emergency savings to cover yourself, then chances are, your recovery won't be long enough to justify staying in your current awful situation, if that situation is in fact really awful. Even if it's not really awful, how much longer can you justify living life in beige?
4) Gain your fear's trust by showing it love and understanding Once you put fear of failure into perspective and know what you're dealing with, it's time to make friends with it. That's right, you heard me. Understanding your fear and the fact that every failure is just an experiment or an opportunity for growth can really help you to gain miles of confidence. Read biographies about successful people in your field. Take note of the stories of how many times they "failed" before they hit it big. You are not alone.
5) Take your fear out for a walk Oh yes, that's right, go get the leash and take action. It's time to put wheels on that dream! Every tiny little action you take towards your goal builds your confidence and helps to smash your fears to smithereens. Trust me on this one -- even tiny training wheels are better than no wheels at all.
6) Set that fear free Go ahead, say goodbye. Let it go. Forever! In other words, do NOT leave yourself an out. NO PLAN B. Fear of failure runs screaming from the room when it realizes you are suddenly focusing on something else -- survival! Sometimes that kind of giant leap is exactly what we need to kick fear to the curb for good.
Radical? Yes. But you can't tame a lion without a whip!
What's the point of these tips? The point is that fear is just a word. It's a word that keeps us trapped in situations, in habits, in patterns of thinking that maybe no longer serve us. Fear is what keeps us addicted to food, to nicotine, to bad relationships, to all kinds of unhealthy stuff. Open your hand and let out the leash a bit. See what happens. And if you need some help taming that fear, let me know. I can help.