Fear of Failure (..and why it’s ruining your life).

People always fall into the trap of believing that the cost of failing is greater than the learning opportunity it presents. Conclusion: Sit around avoiding challenges for the next 30 years. Well, maybe not so bad. I mean no one got hurt, right? But what about that job you didn’t apply for?… Or that person you never asked out?… Or that chance you never took?

But this is how we feel – we fail at something, so we are a failure. I mean ,I know we all know that doesn’t add up logically, but it still feels like that. How can this be though? We’ve all heard the stories of the greats who failed a thousand times before success was at their door. Steve Jobs getting fired from Apple (before returning with a vengeance), The Beatles not being signed. Would we consider these people to be failures? Of course not. We consider them to be pioneers of technology and culture! So how can it be that one single incident of failing, is equivalent to your entire being’s worth of failure? It doesn’t add up.


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Here\’s the irony (and what keeps me in business): The more you fear failure, the more you’ll never try. The more you never try, the more you’ll never disprove your failure theory. Tricky to get your head around, but essentially just imagine a spiralling void which continually sucks you down into an black hole labelled “You’re not good enough”. Not a pretty picture, but certainly one that many people, just like you, find themselves in every day.  

Failure is learning. Failure is pioneering. Failing is not only essential; it is inevitable. How can we get everything right first time? Why would we even want to? I can’t help but feel life would be a little dull without the roller coaster of wins and losses laying the way. A continual trajectory of success feels like a one way ticket to life feeling a bit pointless. Learning to overcome fear of failure is learning to enjoy losing. In fact, you could probably reframe this to say that a failure is a learning experience. We’re scientists at the end of the day – everything is trial and error until we finally home in on the best approach. This is fun. Failing is glorious. A learning experience which means, at the very LEAST, we have hilarious stories to tell down the pub.


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