Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fear of Failure

Facing Fear Of Failure

At some point, we've all experienced some form of fear of failure. It stops some of us from even trying, while others try half-heartedly, undermining their own success and confirming their fears. I've done both in so many areas of life, I thought it would be helpful for me to share some of my fears with you, along with some insights to help you with yours. Here are some top-selling recent books on fear of failure.

Fear Of Failure is a phobia...actually, many phobias related to performance anxiety. It can present itself in sporting events, love life, business, school, church...anywhere. I've had serious anxiety in all of the above. I've "choked" under pressure in sporting events, singing, speaking, asking girls out, or to dance. I can remember anxiety as early as elementary school, where, even though I knew the answers, I couldn't put them on the board or speak them when called upon. As I got older, I was able to force myself to do some of these things despite my fears, though, I couldn't have told you how, at the time.

Anxiety And Motivation: What I learned was anxiety destroys motivation. As we see the potential devastation of failure, the price of trying seems too high...so we turn back. Every time we turn back, we strengthen the emotional wall between us and our goals. Enough times turning back and we'll stop trying completely. This is how anxiety can lead to depression. Depressed people just look like they don't care...they probably care so deeply they shut down. People with depression and anxiety live in a real hurt to avoid an imagined hurt...it's an amazing thing. Once, I was so afraid of failing in a full-time sales business I had started, I spent at least a week in bed, curled up in a fetal position, crying myself to sleep. Fear Of Failure can rob you of the motivation to even try...which guarantees...failure. To get over this, we need to find something that inspires us to take risk and then develop an innovative plan to minimize the risk.

Finding Inspiration isn't as easy as it sounds for a lot of people. In affairs of the heart, most of us see the prize as so valuable we become inspired to great risk. Other areas aren't so easy. With my business, I discovered money was not a good enough motivator for me to be willing to risk. Strangely enough, I became profitable in business only when I found out I was far more inspired to help people than to make a sale. Helping people get what they want, helping them overcome a financial difficulty and find solutions to life problems was what really drove me. Once I discovered helping people was what inspired me, I was willing to risk failure. What drives you? Let yourself off the hook of performance pressure for a few weeks and try to discover what moves you. Is it the approval of a loved one, your name on the door, receiving an award, seeing your daughter graduate college, finally being out of debt, helping others achieve their dreams? Collect up all those things that drive you. Think back over your life and picture the things you feel were accomplishments that made you feel fulfilled...these are your inspirations. Once you have a good picture of your inspiration, you're ready for the easy part, growing with innovation.

Growing With Innovation is establishing and carrying out an innovative plan to face down your fears one by one, using small, painless, almost risk-free steps. My fear of failure in sales was complicated by fear of people, making it extremely difficult for me to imagine ever selling to enough people to earn a profit. So, from the day I finally got out of bed, I broke down my job into stages...greet people, meet people, get phone numbers, make appointments, make sales. At first, I only concerned myself with greeting people. I even used my aerobic walk every morning to practice smiling and waving at people. In a few weeks, I was ready to go out in public and personally meet people...a few a day and gradually more. Then, I did the same thing with getting contact info, calling, selling, group presentations, etc. I've now spoken to groups over 1,000, founded 3 profitable businesses and 2 non-profit corporations, but it started with a little man frozen in fear, crying himself to sleep.

Your innovation will be based on what it is, specifically, you're afraid of. You must develop your own plan, starting where you're comfortable and slowly growing and stretching yourself until you can repeatedly face down your fear without hesitation. Let me promise a few things, so you won't be surprised. The only way to defeat fear is to face it. Courage is not fearlessness! No one is free of fear. Courage is going on despite fear, to accomplish your dreams. The steps I've recommended are designed to help you face your fears and respond to them differently. Instead of stopping or turning around, you'll still sense the fears but, with practice, be able to dismiss them and move forward. Also, as you're moving forward, you will certainly stumble and fall and embarrass yourself and others along the way. Welcome to life! The absence of struggle is death! "The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions." Alfred Addler. If you're truly in fear of failure, consider this...The only way you can fail is by not continuing to try.

3 comments:

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