6 Things No One Told You About Fear of Failure
Did you know that Steve Jobs once said - “I'd rather sell dog shit than PCs.”
Yes, I am talking about the APPLE CEO, Steve Jobs who was one of the most fearless and focused entrepreneur who revolutionised 7 industries.
So now you know it happens to everybody, be it a startup entrepreneur or a top-notch CEO.
Every single one of you reading this wants to do something, build something, or create something that you love, and some of you are already doing it. But to those who haven’t yet started because of your fear of failure, here are 6 things about ‘fear of failure’. I am 100% sure that after you’ve read this you will be fully equipped to kill your fear of failure and get started. The first 2 are tricks that generally work.
It’s a piece of cake because I have done in the past
Be it the first time you had sex or the first time you flew a plane, you were afraid that something might go wrong since it’s your first time. But did you have the same fear when you did it the second time? Unlikely. Unless you failed miserably at your first attempt. Because you’ve been there, done that! Right? The same holds true for almost everything else that you do right from your ventures to the risks that you take. This uncertainty that affects you more than the fear of failure. So if you want to start a business but you are afraid, what you can do is take a trial run and launch it while you are still sticking with your day job to take care of the bills.
But remember, sometimes you won’t get a trial.
If an idiot can do it, I sure can be great at it.
You failed miserably, trying to learn from a pro. But what happens if your junior, whom you think of as totally not the confident, stylish and macho type (basically a total lightweight), comes and tells you how he went all the way with his girlfriend just last week. Despite the uneasiness in the beginning, it went off 'just fine'. Wouldn't you start thinking - “If this chap can do it in ‘just fine’, I can be a killer at it.
So to talk in terms of your business, seeing Richard Branson succeed in wildly different businesses might not kill your fears. But if one of your junior colleagues or staff whom you know very well starts something similar to what you are thinking and does well, you know for sure that you can do better than him.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do
I am not saying you will become fail-proof by using these tips; failure is real, and even with these tips it’s certain that you will fail. No one has ever said that he didn’t fail even once in his entire lifetime. In fact, even God had to struggle. And thus, one way to deal with it is to accept that you cannot completely avoid failure, no matter what you do. Because no one in this world has a ‘fail-proof’ formula. And when failure is almost certain, like when you’ve quit your job already and business seems to be heading south, the first two ‘tricks’ that I mentioned earlier won’t work. What do you do then? What you can actually do is ask yourself-
I might fail if I try, but what if I don’t try?
Fear of failure is the strongest when you have failed once. Failure costs, but the biggest cost is the loss of confidence. Suppose you are knocked out in a boxing match. Getting back up after being knocked down and out isn’t easy. Because unlike in movies, getting back up means getting ready to get your ass kicked yet again. So what do you do? Give up? But that means the enemy wins and you loose. And you didn’t even give your best shot. At that moment, suppose you say to yourself, “ I can still fight, and I will fight as long as I can move because I might lose if I fight, but I WILL CERTAINLY lose if I don’t fight.”
And anyway, what is the worse that can happen if you do try? You are not going to die. You are not going to lose the most valuable thing in your life. So by imagining the worse that can happen you might as well realise that your fear is just in your head. Or if you have something really important to lose, thinking of the worst that can happen can help you prepare, just in case you fail.
But what happens if you fought till you could move and you still lost? Because no matter how much anyone prepares, nothing is 100% fail-proof.
The power of ‘at least I tried’
In our analogy, if you still lose, you will be proud of what you did. So you might have failed but you will not lose your confidence. Because at least you tried and at least you gave it your all. Your 200 percent. And even though you lost and you realised that you were not enough. You will still have the same determination to go back to the gym. Spend every last ounce of your energy on training, making yourself stronger. So that you can return to this ring with full force. Mightier than ever. And if you give it your best shot every single time, one day you will definitely start winning. And you will win until there is no one left to defeat.
What happens if I quit? The final nail in the coffin.
What if it’s so hard, it simply doesn’t feel worth it. Quitting is an easy option; especially so today, because it’s so much easier to put it to rest and start something new, something fresh, different and easier. Something that has a higher chance of success (at least that’s what you think at that point).
You begin to think that you are looking at an assured success in what you have planned. So you are looking at what you are going to get, fully convinced that diving is a better choice than flying. It’s much safer and far more likely that you’ll actually succeed in learning how to do it. What you are ignoring though is, if you quit on flying now, you will never come back and try to fly.
Here’s what you must do- Think of yourself as 75 years old, sitting in your armchair with only your memories, would you be glad that you decided to quit flying and go diving? Which memories would you value more- diving or flying? - Flying with your friends and family.
Obviously, flying is far more daunting and dangerous but the armchair test will totally tell you if it’s worth it. Because then you can clearly see the trade off. As Steve Jobs famously put it-
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
All our decisions are driven by our emotions and if we control them, we can certainly influence our actions to get the success that we aspire. So whatever is stopping you- just remember one thing- You might lose once if you try but you will never win if you don’t try. And don’t just try, give it all you got.