Fear of Failure Destroys Success

October 3, 2007 — Leave a comment

KSL TVââ?¬â??Studio 5

We’ve heard the adages all before: “If at first you don’t succeed try, try, again.” Or, “If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing well the first time.” But, how about trying this on for a change: “If at first you don’t succeed, good for you!” Or, “If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly at first.”According to Studio 5 Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Liz Hale, these sayings are not only psychologically healthier and more realistic, but will propel us to pursue our hopes and dreams to an even greater extent.

Unfortunately, many of us are afraid to undertake the trial because we are afraid of the error. In reality, it’s our thinking that’s in error. Instead of mistaking the belief that errors are bad and harmful, it’s likely the only thing that pushes us a more viable end result. If we’re not willing to error, then we’re not willing to fail or succeed! There is no other way; the two go hand-in-hand. The key, however, is to separate out performance from worth. Our worth has nothing to do with our performance and our performance has nothing to do with our worth.

In our desire to dream big, it’s often our fear of failure that holds us back.

Practice Conscious Incompetence
It would behoove all of us to practice, “Conscious Incompetence.” In order to try something new, you have to give yourself permission to do things you know you can’t doââ?¬Â¦and do them anyway! What does your fear look like? Get really familiar with what it’s all about. It’s usually helpful to flush out fears by doing what I call a Brain Train. In other words, be the train conductor of your own life and follow your own train of thought. Ask, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I try and fail here? And what would that mean? And then what would I do? And what would that entail,” and so on.” And, after you’ve looked at the worst possible case scenario, you get your caboose in the game and go for it!

Go for it knowing that you’re not going to get it right the first time out.

Let “What If” Motivate
It is often more daunting and haunting for us to not try our hand at something we’ve always wanted to do and then be plagued by all the, “What if’s?” What if I had tried my hand at sport; where would my skill level be today? What if I had agreed to run for PTA President; what kind of friendships would I have made had I received the most votes or not? What if I had taken on that new role on the job, at school, or in my relationship? What if I had shared my vision with the CEO or gone up the corporate ladder until someone agreed to give me 10-minutes to show them my new and inventive product? Let the “what if’s” haunt you into going for it.

Remember, we are better off failing the first time we try something than succeeding.

Caution: Complacent Confidence
What’s interesting is that confidence can often lead to complacency. When we have success right off the bat, we are susceptible to focusing on what easily and quickly worked and becoming complacent. When a football team starts the year off by losing their first game of the season, their motivation is at its highest to up the ante. They are fresh enough in the season, coming off of a pumped-up summer of practice and high hopes, that their mind-set is in full-swing to continue exploring and doing whatever it takes to get a win the next time. Their initial loss becomes intolerable causing an even greater motivation and determination.

Lose Fear Not Fortitude
It’s so hard to see someone you care about suffer a disappointment or set back. Particularly, when a child fails at something, it’s incredibly difficult to see their disappointment. HOWEVER, it is likely one of the most valuable skills they will learn; how to lose. Are they going to lose their patience, motivation, nerve, or confidence? Or, are they going to lose some of the fear that comes with failure? How you respond to a loss is one of the best teachers; do you sulk, throw a temper-tantrum, quit, seek revenge, or take time to compose yourself and learn what to do differently (if anything) the next time. In trying to lose the fear, restructure the loss – don’t rehearse it. In other words, don’t replay a poor performance so much that in becomes ingrained; replace it with how you want to operate the next time.

At times we believe that we suffer from bad luck, so why even bother trying something new? In my world, we call this “external locus of control.” It’s fatalistic to believe that there is little or nothing you can do to change your life. So, we hope for the best and pull out a lucky rabbit’s foot. Most successful people take the opposite view; they have an “internal locus of control.” What happens in life is largely up to them. When chance events occur outside that personal control, they don’t blame it on bad luck, but get busy looking for ways to make it right by responding, not resenting. Locus of control isn’t genetic; you learned it and you can change it.

(940)

Dr. Liz Hale

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