A marketer's pursuit in living a meaningful life

Fear of Failure


Failure, let’s talk about it. We’ve all experienced it. We all fear it. That fear can leaves us paralyzed to take action. So before we even start on what could potentially fail, we never begin due to the possibility of it not succeeding. So how do we get over this fear? Is it possible? First we have to break down what exactly we are afraid of to understand how to conquer it.

Do we actually fear the failure itself, or do we fear the consequences? The judgement and shame that comes with the failure. Do we fear that instead? Is that what it actually means to fear failure? To fear judgment and shame. It depends on the circumstance. If someone is trying to support their family, they might fear failing at a new career move because the consequences of failing is not being able to feed their children. I don’t think they fear judgement, they could fear shame, but they do fear the consequences and not the failure itself. So fear of failure means fear of consequences? Sometimes those consequences are judgement and shame, sometimes they are not.

So if someone is paralyzed from fear of failure, and never take the first step that would lead them to success or failure, what are they? They didn’t set out to do anything. They didn’t fail at an attempt at something. So are they still a failure? Or is it a different classification? Maybe they’re a loser. A loser is defined as a person who accepts defeat with good or bad grace. While failure is simply defined as lack of success. So a failure is someone who hasn’t succeeded. While a loser is someone who has accepted defeat. If someone fears failure to the point of being paralyzed to take action, they have accepted defeat. Without even trying, they think they’re going to fail. If you’re a failure, you could still be trying to reach success.

I have a goal in mind. I know the potential benefits if I reach it, and I know the potential consequences. The benefits put my life in a better situation, the consequences would put my life in a worse situation. I aspire to reach a life with those benefits, say financial stability, a home of my own, a nice car, whatever. I want those things right? Okay so let’s look at the potential consequences. Well I’d probably be less financially stable, therefore my budget for free will is diminished. If I do nothing, I’ll be exactly where I am now, at best. Am I okay with that? If I accept my position now, does that make me a loser? Only if I accept where I are now out of fear of failure. If I accept where I am now out of being truly content with my circumstance, then that is wonderful. I dream of a world where everyone can be at peace with where they are in life.

Well what happens when I do take that first step? When I step out of potentially being a loser, and I step into the world of potentially being a failure? There is risk involved. It can be hard emotionally, physically, and mentally. It can add extra pressure to relationships. I now have to work harder, longer, and smarter to make sure I don’t fail. Because if I do, I have to face the consequences. The external consequences of judgement and shame. The internal consequence of self-doubt. And the immediate consequences tied directly with that failure; whether it’s financial-loss of money, physical-loss of health, or anything else. There is a lot to fear in failure.

So maybe I need to redefine failure. Let’s take a step back. Instead of failure being defined as succeeding or not, maybe failure is never attempting. If you attempt, that means you learn. And if you learn, that means you grow. Now if you attempt to reach that goal again, you’re that much closer. You know the steps needed now to reach it, or at least better than you did before the attempt. Now we fear missing out on the opportunity to grow and learn, instead of having a fear of failing.

Maybe we need context for our failures. We need perspective. Our fear of failure is not always justified. It comes from speculation. We are ignorant and uncertain about what could happen if we don’t succeed, and therefore fear the unknown. So how do we rise above this ignorance? The same way you rise above any ignorance, education. You are probably not the first person to aspire to this goal. If you are, someone has probably done something of a comparable level. So reach out to those people, read their books, learn what they did so you have an advantage before you even take that first step to reach your goal. This is the first step. Educating yourself should not be undermined. It is one of the most important things you can do.

Fear is not a bad thing. We are afraid of being afraid. Fear tells us something is up. Something isn’t right in this situation. That there are potential consequences. Sometimes it is a gut feeling. We don’t know what is off but we feel that something is askew. Sometimes the fear is rational. We see the bull in front of us kicking its back legs. We know this to be a sign for shit about to hit the fan. We know that if we don’t do something about it right now, our fear of being charged by the bull will be realized. Fear can be paralyzing. But if you do not listen to that fear and act on it, the thing you fear most will come to fruition. Facing your fears is not necessarily a good thing. If I step out into the bull ring because it is bold and courageous to face your fears, I’m probably going to get my face stomped. So what should I do when I’m afraid? Facing your fear is the last step. First we have to understand the fear. Analyze it. Learn how to defeat it. That way when we do face the bull, we know that it is susceptible to red.

What's on your mind after reading that?

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Jonathan Horiel

I am a marketer by trade, and a story teller by heart. This blog is a compilation of my stories, both personal and career focused. Follow me on my journey and feel free to join anytime.

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