Mike: “I really would like to be financially independent, run my own shop and do what I like the most with my life.”
Kate: “I feel the same, I’m tired of my 9-to-5 rat race!”
Mike: “Hey, let’s open a gelato shop!”
Kate: “That’s a great idea! I’ll draft a quick business plan. Let’s talk next week about the next steps. I’m so excited!”
One week later
Kate: “Hey Mike, shall we sit down to look at the business plan?”
Mike: “Well, yeah, but I’m busy with my current job, I feel like the gelato shop can jeopardize my career right now. I would rather think about it in a couple of months when I finish a couple of projects at work.”
Sound familiar? Have you ever been in Mike’s or Kate’s shoes? Fear jeopardizes action.
Instead of running away from your fear of failure, what successful people do is lean right into it. They use their fear as fuel to power their ambition and work hard to prove everyone wrong.
To give you an example of what embracing your fear of failure means, it’s important to first discuss what failure is.
What is failure? It has two different meanings: an event that does not reach a goal, and the inability to produce a desired or expected outcome. In other words, failure means not reaching your destination, and it also means disappointment.
What successful people do is take both definitions of failure and use them to their advantage. They study what went wrong in their disappointment, so they can do better next time.
Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater, the world’s biggest hedge fund, in his book “Principles,” states that both pain and reflection lead to progress. He adds that you don’t have to feel bad for your mistakes or those of others; instead, you should love them.
How does this help? It helps because embracing your fear of failure means that you won’t fear it anymore; you will see that there are two sides of it.
The first side is the fear, which comes from failure being an unknown entity. It causes you to feel afraid because you don’t know what to expect, and this uncertainty paralyzes you.
The second side of failure is understanding its consequences. This means learning not only why something didn’t work out the way you wanted, but what you have to do so it doesn’t happen again next time.
The trick is to use your fear of failure as a catalyst to push yourself harder and achieve more than you thought possible/needed. Since fear is a powerful feeling, this will lead you to success.
In order for this technique to work, though, there are certain things that need to be in place:
1) You need knowledge about what allows people to succeed. This includes studying how successful people handle pressure and setbacks, among other information that will minimize your fears and increase your ability.
2) You shouldn’t seek out failure; instead, remain humble and learn from mistakes when they occur naturally through trial and error. You should have a plan for how you’ll approach failure, and be able to understand that there are always options even if it seems as though there aren’t.
3) Try not to take anything personally when something doesn’t go as planned. Rather, look at what went wrong from the perspective of someone who is outside your circle of concern, so you can avoid being an egoist about the situation and making the problem worse.
Understanding how success works and going through failure without taking it personally will help you embrace fear because it shows a clear path towards success instead of allowing yourself to become paralyzed by uncertainty.
When we embrace our fear, we realize that it’s not actually scary; rather, it’s empowering. It shows that we’re willing to be better than what people expect, and there’s nothing more motivating than that.
This is why embracing your fear of failure is a powerful skill that leads to success. We need to use the technique of leaning into our fear instead of running away from it so we can recognize problems before they occur and solve them quickly, leading us to achieve our goals.