Did you know that Walt Disney was told by his former newspaper editor that he ‘lacked in imagination and had no good ideas’, that Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore, Sir James Dyson had 5,126 failed prototypes over the course of 15 years before creating a bagless vacuum cleaner worth $4.5 billion and that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team? These are just a few highly successful people who failed their way to success (Sebastian Kipman, 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed Their Way To Success). Surprising or not each of these successful people did not let their failures get in the way of pursuing their dreams. What about you? Do you let your fear of failure get in the way of personal or professional opportunities in your life? If you do, you may have atychipophobia. Atychiphobia is the irrational and persistent fear of failing. Like other phobias, it varies in severity and can cause stress and anxiety. Whether you are looking to try new things or go after a goal, here are some tips to overcome your fear of failure.
Stop worrying about the opinions of others: People often fear or avoid failure because they are afraid of what others will think or say. People are going to talk regardless of your success or failure. Your ability to succeed or fail does not ride upon the sole opinion of others. Don’t let the voice of others determine your own self-worth.
Set realistic expectations: A lot of people who have a fear of failing are perfectionists. I will probably say this in every one of my blogs but “nobody is perfect”—yes including you! Accept that success and failure are both possible outcomes, separately or together. Being prepared and accepting either outcome can help you cope better if best case scenario does not pan out.
Allow yourself to fail: Accept the risk in trying to succeed is failing. Once you allow yourself to fail, it’s okay if it burns. Just like everything else in life, with time you will get past it.
Positive self-talk: A lot of people find it difficult to pick themselves up after failing, especially because self-esteem and ego take a hit. Be your own cheerleader. If you find this difficult, take a step back and think of what you would say to someone else who experienced the same failure. Be kind to yourself, it takes a lot to try and one setback does not have to define your whole outcome.
Learn from failing: Failure is one of the BEST ways to learn. Like we mentioned above, most people don’t always succeed on their first try. Stop looking at failure as a dead-end and start looking at it as opportunity to learn and become better. What were the positive things from this experience? How can I do better next time? How can I change my negative feelings?
Just like Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Sir James Dyson, Michael Jordan and many other people who have become successful, they all failed along the way and more than once. The recipe for success often takes a good dream, perseverance and some good failures along the way. So, the next time you compare yourself to a successful person, doubt your ability to succeed or go to use your Dyson vacuum, remember this blog and how you, me and everybody else in the world will fail and fail again many times in our lives. But, so what? At least we tried!
“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure” -Napoleon Hill.