The Fear of Failure and how to overcome it

Organizational Culture Productivity & Work-Life Balance
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Fear is a part of human nature. Nobody enjoys failing. Fear might look into your eyes as you walk up to a room full of strangers, it might greet you at the conference room before you make your big presentation, fear might grapple you on your way to your fist interview. All of us have given up something that we were passionate about because of our fear of failure. Our fear of failure resists us from moving forward. Fear of failure can paralyze our efforts and our journey ahead. Therefore, we must step up our game and face our fear of failing.

What does failure mean to you?

All of us have different perspectives on failure, different journeys, benchmarks and belief systems. A failure to one might be a great learning experience for another person. It simply isn’t possible to lead a life without failure. At one point or the other, our fear of failure will come true. It is our response to this failure that will decide our journey ahead.

Redefine Failure

The first step towards overcoming your fear of failure is to change your definition of failure. Fear of failure usually stems from our expectations. Thus reframing your expectations and redefining failure will help you overcome your fear of failure. We assimilate our ideas of success and failure right from our childhood. The present culture of perfectionism makes it difficult to challenge these notions. We must consider failing as an opportunity to gather knowledge about what does not work. This shift in perspective will help us transform a catastrophic event into a positive learning experience.

Set approach goals

Approach goals are defined as goals that focus on positive outcomes. Thus our first instinct while choosing an approach goal is to focus on the favorable outcome. This will help us avoid excessive anxiety and fear of failing. When we set avoidance goals or goals to avoid a negative outcome, our mind subconsciously dreads failure. Let us say that you have an important presentation at work. What would your approach goal be? Your goal must be to impress your manager and the key executives present in the room. When you set an avoidance goal like “I wish I do not forget my points during the presentation”, you have already started worrying about the worst-case scenario. While understanding the worst possible outcome can reduce the impact of failure, having a positive outlook will help you step up your game.

Have a backup Plan

Fear of failing might hit you hard if you have the ‘’all or nothing’ attitude. Before you make an important decision, look at all the potential outcomes. The old proverb goes like this: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Having a backup plan is like choosing to wear your safety gear while swimming. It gives you more confidence to move ahead and take a calculated risk. Having a backup plan and preparing for the worst-case scenario will reduce the negative emotions that you expect to feel if you fail to achieve your dream goal.

So the next time you feel fearful about a possible outcome, change your idea of failure, learn a new lesson from the situation and step out of your comfort zone. Most successful people in the world often fail and fail fast. A little fear might help you put your best foot forward, but if you ever feel like fear of failure is holding you back, make a conscious decision, follow the three simple steps and smile right back at the face of failure!

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