The Sunday Series: Fear VS failure – Are we subconsciously sabotaging our chances of success?

We all want to achieve success and avoid failure. It hurts when we fail, perhaps not necessarily physically but it can carve a dent in our ego, one that makes it hard to give it another go. I’ve always struggled with getting things wrong, and to protect my self I tend to hold myself back when it comes to getting out of my comfort zone. I also find I procrastinate and play it safe, especially when it comes to starting something new. 

On top of this, I’ve spent a long time believing that I’m not ‘good’ at anything (how sad is that?) It was only when my coach recently asked me to list out all of the things that I’m ‘good’ at, I noticed how few things I perceived there to be. I’d say, “well I guess I’m OK at them but wouldn’t say I’m good at them”. My coach then surprised me by listing double the amount of things they thought I was good at and it got me thinking. Why is it that others can see our potential and strengths when we can’t? Am I subconsciously sabotaging my chances of success? And how much does my fear of failing really hold me back?

Through working with a coach I’ve come to realise, we aren’t born with a fear of failure we learn it and that’s a good thing. Why? Because if we can learn it, it means we can ‘unlearn’ it and replace it with habits and belief systems that are more productive for us. All of our experiences shape how we respond to life but that doesn’t mean they determine it. While I could list out all the reasons why fearing failure is counterproductive it doesn’t make it magically disappear, well not for me anyway. Instead, I’ve had to define what failure truly means to me, and spend some time outlining my strengths. 

My journey to care a little less about how I’d feel if it all went wrong or what people would think, and a little more about how I’d feel if it went right, has led me to a few ways to help face the fear of failing:

Get clear on why failing is so important to you 

We all have different definitions of failure as we all have individual benchmarks, values, and belief systems. For me, I don’t like failing because I’m a perfectionist, I don’t like doing things wrong, I don’t like letting people down, and I care far too much about what other people think. Starting with why will help you in overcoming it. 

Failure is feedback whether you see it as negative or positive 

Sometimes rather than asking yourself what went wrong ask yourself what went right? Creativity can be born from failure. When things haven’t worked out the first time use what has to inform how you’ll do it differently next time.

Use examples of when you’ve got through difficult times to motivate you 

It’s probably not a surprise that I use the difficult experience of losing my dad to guide a lot of the ways I respond to life. It’s taught me that when times get hard not only can I deal with them but I can get through them. 

Take ownership of your strengths and successes 

It’s not a one-off, it’s not luck, it was down to you. We all possess a wealth of strengths but sometimes instead of championing them we focus more time on improving our weaknesses. Spend time writing down all the things you are good and if that feels hard instead outline your achievements. From this, you’ll be able to see all that was required from YOU to make it a success.

Laura xo