Don’t be ruled by a “fear of failure”

Have you ever felt like the fear of failure holds you back from trying new things, or putting yourself out there?

Well if so, you’re not alone. There are many people both in the workplace, as well as people in their personal lives, who suffer from a fear of failure and consequently find themselves forever trodding down the same familiar path they have always walked along……. Playing it ultra-safe ….. As much as they desperately want to give something different a go, they become constrained through a self-imposed inhibition that the fear of failure imposes.

  • A common problem, with different effects

The fear of failure and fear of making a mistake afflicts people in different ways…… In the workplace for example, there are some who are deeply unhappy in the work they are doing – and yet are reluctant to try something different.  There are others who feel they are ready for a promotion, but are reluctant to apply when the opportunity arises.

There are single people in their personal lives who regret that when they meet someone they really like – they have been unable to even ask the person out for a coffee…….The fear of failure in this instance is closely accompanied by a fear of rejection – and can paralyse some people from taking any type of risk.

Sometimes this can be because these people set such high standards for themselves that they define failure  as any result that is less than perfect….. If they don’t think they can achieve something to their self-imposed high standards, then they simply won’t have a go at it.

  • So, what is the solution?

How to overcome this obstacle is a challenge for many who are seeking self-improvement and personal development.inspire222

Basically the simple answer is that we’ve got to change our attitude towards failure. Instead of associating failure with feelings of “worthlessness” – we need to instead recognise that it has taken courage to try something outside of our comfort zone. We need to congratulate ourselves for having a go – and recognise that not everything will always work out the way we plan.

If we can take something positive from the experience and learn a lesson from any mistake, then this will help us to improve for next time. We become wiser and more capable. Also, although things may not have worked out – we will not have to suffer from any nagging feelings of regret, wondering “What might have been?”

With this change in perspective, and through treating ourselves with a little more kindness, then the fear of failure will no longer wield such power and control over us. We will experience a greater sense of freedom in being able to give new things a go.

We will no longer engage in harsh or punishing self-judgement if we make some mistakes, or if things don’t quite work out. This new attitude of patience will provide us with a much firmer foundation for building a quiet self-confidence, accepting that some mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.

“Change the way you look at things – and the things you look at can change” 

  • Assessing the risk versus potential gain

I am definitely not advocating here that you become reckless. Clearly, there are many times when caution is warranted. It is foolish to close your eyes to danger. However, what we are talking about here is no longer being controlled by fear and ruled by self-doubt or unrealistic self-expectation …… and instead learning to exercise sound judgement.

Consider the cost of the opportunity that may be missed by playing safe . What could be lost by not having a go. Weigh up the potential gains, versus the risks associated with trying out this new experience. ……. The main thing here is that you will be making a calm and measured assessment – and not allow yourself to be ruled by fear.

If you would like more resources, insights and ideas on personal development, then check out our website page on self-improvement 

In closing. I hope these ideas might help you in some small way to bring out the very best in yourself….. In turn, you will serve as an example to others and inspire them to be the best they can be. And the possibilities that you may have only dreamed of for yourself in the past, can become a reality.

(Copyright 2012. Brian Carroll – founder, Performance Development)

About PerformanceDevelopment

I am a qualified psychologist, and established my corporate training business, Performance Development, more than twenty years ago in Melbourne, Australia. We focus upon Leadership Skills development and helping people to develop the capabilities and confidence they need to get the best out of themselves.
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