How do you feel about failure? If you are like most people, failure makes you uncomfortable. It’s something you want to stay away from. The fact is: fear of failure is a common type of fear that many people have.
I wish I could say that I’m immune to it, but I’m not. Looking back, I can see that I was afraid of failing. I have made progress, but I’m still working on it now.
What should we do then? How can we overcome our fear of failure?
From what I have learned, the first step to overcoming fear of failure is having the right perspective toward failure. Instead of seeing it as something negative, you should see it as something positive.
Here are some positive views about failures:
1. Failure is the price of trying something new.
Einstein once said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
Like it or not, doing something new involves risks, including the risk of failing. After all, it’s new; you aren’t familiar with it. So it’s likely that you will make some mistakes.
The only way not to fail is to stay where you are and not grow. If you want to grow, however, you must be willing to pay the price of failure.
2. Failure gives you wisdom.
Failure can teach you lessons in a way that others can’t. The fact that you have put your resources into something and get undesired results will leave an impression on you. You will grasp the lesson at a much deeper level than just reading books, for instance.
William Saroyan once said: “Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure.”
3. Failure tests your enthusiasm.
Failure is inevitable on the way to success. That’s why the important thing is how you respond to it. This includes whether or not you can maintain your enthusiasm. Can you still be enthusiastic even after you fail? Can you still be optimistic? I know this is easier said than done, but this is something we should all learn to do.
Winston Churchill put it this way: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
After having the right perspective toward failure, what should we do? Thomas J. Watson gave us this advice:
Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.
This advice might seem extreme, but I think it’s good advice. It means that you should be willing to have more failures. Or, put another way, you should make more attempts that could lead to failures. Why? Because this means that you are pushing boundaries. You are accelerating your progress. You don’t just stay where you are.
Of course, we are talking about intelligent failures here; just repeating the same mistakes over and over is stupidity.
The story of Stephen King is a good example.
King had wanted to become a writer from a young age. So he wrote short stories and sent them to magazines. But what happened? He got rejected. Again and again. He didn’t stop though. He read the rejection letters, learned from them, and kept writing.
Long story short, he eventually made it in the writing world. And he made it big time.
King’s story is an inspiration to me. He was willing to have failures, and have them often. He learned from them and kept getting better.
So here is what you should do: consider failures as positive and make more attempts. That’s the way you can grow and get better. As George Bernard Shaw once said: A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.