Coaching for Leadership, for Growth, for Success

Fear of failure



I love this quote by Michael Jordan: “ I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost more than 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot, and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life…and that’s why I succeed.”

Why are we so afraid of failure? Are we afraid of what failure will make us feel like? Or what others may think of us if we fail? What are we really afraid of? And why have we developed a sense that failing is something to be afraid of?

If we are afraid of failure, our ability to try new things and pursue the things we want in life is diminished. How can I start something and take a risk if ultimately I may fail? What’s the point in starting it anyway? Fear of failure keeps us in our comfort zone, hidden from a world of opportunities and possibilities, a world where we could be and do anything we set our minds to.

So what if we fail? What do we stand to lose? Will we survive?

Have you ever failed at something? How did that feel? What did you learn from it? Did you survive? Did it make you stronger or weaker? Did you ever try something you wanted, only to fail many times, and kept trying until you mastered it? I can recall many times in my own life (i.e. learning to ride my first bike, becoming a parent, learning a new language, training for my first half marathon…). And why is it that children’s ability to bounce back from failure is so much better than ours? Could it therefore be society at large that has embedded the idea that failing at something is a negative experience to go through?

But if we don’t fail, how else would we learn, and develop, and grow? How realistic is it to expect of ourselves never to fail? And what if we try something new and we fail? What would happen to us really? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Why is it so difficult to admit that we are not perfect and we make mistakes? Do you know anyone who has never made a mistake? And if we are so forgiving of others making mistakes, how come we are not able to apply to same rule to ourselves?

Starting today, start something you are afraid to start for fear you may fail. What is it?

Whenever I feel the fear prior to starting something new I ask myself, what’s the worst that can happen? How will I deal with the worst case scenario if that was to happen? How will I feel if I wasn’t to start it in the first place?

So feel the fear and do it anyway. What will you commit to start today?