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5 Ways Fear of Failure Can Ruin Your Business Our fears play a big role in our lives. Fear of failure undermines of our ability to succeed.

By R.L. Adams Edited by Dan Bova

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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In our society, failure has become some sort of taboo. None of us like to talk about it. But we all know it's there. Its looming presence almost beckons us towards it. It entices us with the impossible promise of vast riches and unfathomable fortunes. It invites us with the allure of ample time and freedom to travel the world and live according to our own terms. But deep down inside, none of that matter. As the potential fear of failure grips us, our bright, vividly-colored dreams began to evaporate in a plume of smoke.

What is it about failure that's so powerful? Why is that we're deathly afraid of failing? As an entrepreneur, this stifling feeling has overcome me many times. I've been gripped by that sudden and urgent fear that has suffocated me. And you know what? It ruined my business numerous times. It was my gripping fear of failure that lead to my destruction and downfall in the past. But you know what else? I'll never let it happen again.

Looking back on it now, I can tell you that this fear compelled me not to act on things that I knew could change my business. I was too afraid to pick up the phone and cold call businesses pitching my products. To afraid to approach alliances, affiliates or partners. What was I so afraid of? Rejection? Scolding? Something else? When I think about it, it was the potential for pain. It wasn't so much the failure itself that I was afraid of, but more so the fear of failure.

That fear stopped me from taking action. It was a self-inflicted mental confinement that I couldn't extricate myself from. Know that feeling? I can attribute the death and destruction of two past businesses to this ghastly fear. I'd liken it to an always-burning flame that would erupt into a fast-spreading conflagration as soon as those wheels in my mind started to turn. And it completely and utterly decimated me.

I became so sick of this fear that after I failed in such a major way, I promised myself that I would never allow it to dictate my actions ever again. In fact, when I did fail, and I mean fail miserably to a degree that I wouldn't wish on even my worst enemies, I actually realized that the world didn't end. Nothing stopped. Things kept going. People talked for a while then they moved onto other topics, other people, other behind-the-back whispers.

And so what? That's what I was so afraid of? Yet, now that I have my hindsight, I realized that this fear of failure was destroying my business. I didn't even know it. But I was so knee-deep in that fear, that I couldn't actually see what was going on. I couldn't actually see how it was eroding me sense of self and picking away at any semblance of dignity that I had left, piece by piece by piece.

How the Fear Of Failure is Ruining Your Business

Tony Robbins is known for poignantly stating that we'll do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. No truer words have been spoken. When you hear Robbins convey this powerful paradigm, it makes perfect sense. We all avoid pain while seeking pleasure. However, that's not the entire picture. In fact, if that were completely and wholly true, wouldn't we all just quit our bad habits and work tirelessly day and night to achieve our goals? Sure we would.

The truth? We do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure in the short term. Not in the long term. Clearly, in the short term. It's these sudden and instant urges of our mind that take over. But this has nothing to do with a shortcoming on your behalf. Nor on mine. Nor the next person. It's how we're all hardwired. It's part of our genetic makeup. Think fight-or-flight. To overcome this paradigm and succeed in the long term, you have to be conscious of the conversion occurring in your mind.

We have this massive negative voice. It's loud and unruly. It berates and belittles. You've likely heard it before. It tells you that you're not good enough. Not smart enough. Not capable enough to succeed. It begins to help you conjure up these what-if scenarios, unnecessarily creating an air of stress and anxiety. It becomes hard to breathe as you attempt to overcome this negative voice in the mind. But when you learn to control it, that's when the magic begins to occur.

Consider this for a moment. As a software engineer, I have a fascination with machines and code. CPUs are hardwired with circuits that provide a basic fundamental programming. Much like our brains do. But it's the mind's conditioning, very much like an operating system, that controls a large part of the behavior of this machine called the self. Conditioning occurs over a lifetime. it becomes habitual. Everything we think or say or do turns into a habit when repeated enough times.

Your goal? Overcome that conditioning. Reprogram the mind. Is this easy? Of course not. But it is possible. It requires subliminal programming. A voice of abundance, if you will. How? Condition your mind through repetition. Embed new scripts and mantras into it. It's not easy. But it is possible. Because, when you stop to think about the alternative, here are 5 reasons that very same fear of failure is absolutely ruining your business, very much like it ruined many of mine.

Related: 18 Ways to Bounce Back from Failure

1. It's forcing you to play it safe.

Our deeply-embedded fear of failure forces us to play it safe. We're shackled. Unable to get free. Unable to untether the cord that binds us to this fear. Never really being able to reach the so-called promise land. The truth is that you'll always play it safe when you're living in fear. The alternative is too painful. But let me ask you this question. What are you so afraid of? I've been down that road. It's okay to fail. It really is.

When you're going through failure, it hurts. But what hurts more is the fear of it. When you actually reach that barren desert, it's not so bad. In fact, failure fuels you far more than success ever would. And the most famous and successful people in life have failed the most times. The next time you hear that negative voice in your mind, fight back. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Don't play it safe. Go out there and throw caution to the wind.

2. It's blocking you off from an abundant path.

There are two roads in life and in business. One, that most of us travel on, leads to the land of scarcity. This is a world where there's never enough. Not enough money. Not enough opportunity. Not enough skills. Not enough of anything. That land of scarcity is a dangerous place and one where most of us spend time quite often. The reason why? Our sudden and urgent fear of failure.

That fear is blocking you from an abundant path. The second path that we all know exists somewhere deep down inside is this land of abundance where there's more than enough. More than enough money to do what we want when we want it. More than enough time to spend how we choose. More than enough opportunity, chances, skills, business partnerships, collaborations, love, respect and so on.

Related: If Elon Musk Can Have a Sense of Humor About Failure, So Can You

3. It's limiting your chances to scale your business.

Even if you're doing well in business, your fear of failure is likely causing you not to scale out. It compels you to stay in the same markets, not to expand your offers, not to hire more personnel, not to grow sales too far, too fast. And why? Because we're scared of what would happen if we couldn't meet our obligations. Sometimes, rightfully so. If you have a good thing going, then keep it going, right? Wrong.

Human beings weren't meant to just survive. We're meant to thrive. And deep down inside, you know that you're meant to thrive, but it's that fear that's cutting you off. That's what cut me off. But you know what? The alternative is unacceptable. Flip the script. Cancel that fear. Think about what will happen if you don't take that chance, you don't take that risk, and you continue to stay on the straight and narrow. True scale happens when you push with all pistons firing.

Related: 10 Blessings That Come Hidden in Rejection, Losing and Failure

4. It's capping your potential to earn more money.

When you're too afraid to take chances or risks, your potential to earn more money in your business is capped. How can you expect to gain more when your mind is limited by these negative beliefs? The fear of failure leads to the land of scarcity. Not the land of abundance, where you need to be in order to earn more money. Sounds very new age, doesn't it? But it's wholeheartedly true.

Everything in your life right now was once a thought. Your entire life is created and manifested by your thoughts. So if you're serious about earning more money in your business, you have to handle your thoughts by overcoming your deepest and darkest fears of failure. Not as simple as it sounds. I know. But that's the truth. As soon as I overcame those fears, the results were well beyond anything I had ever envisioned.

5. It's creating an unhealthy force that's impacting every area of your life.

As entrepreneurs, we have a real need to wear many hats, especially in the beginning. It requires us to wake up early, set goals and actually take action towards their achievement. It also means that we need to be persistent. But our fears block us from that life of achievement. And, in turn, it creates an unhealthy force that impacts every area of our lives. When our business begins to stall, we get stressed out, anxious and live in a state of constant fear.

This impacts our health. It alters our diet. It sets the tone for our relationships. And quite literally transforms nearly every aspect of our lives. The only way to move past this? Associate enough pain with the alternative of what would happen if you don't take action and achieve your goals. That's how you truly overcome your fear of failure. And when you do, the possibilities are truly limitless.

R.L. Adams

Entrepreneur, software engineer, author, blogger and founder of WanderlustWorker.com

Robert Adams is a writer, blogger, serial entrepreneur, software engineer and best-selling author of dozens of technology, SEO, online marketing and self-development books, audiobooks and courses.

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