Success in life as well as business often requires stepping outside of your comfort zone, taking risks, and developing the drive to work harder than everyone else. With a bit of courage we all have the capability to push the envelope to accomplish anything that our heart desires. Sadly though statistics prove that most people don’t have what it takes to succeed. The biggest obstacle to success in any area of life is the fear of failure. The fear of failure paralyzes people into seeking an equilibrium state whereby stress is minimized and life becomes “comfortable.” Stated another way, most people are simply too comfortable working their nine to five jobs to put in the effort and energy needed to transform their lives from ordinary to extraordinary. The fear of failure is the one thing that will hold you back and prevent you from ever experiencing all that life has to offer.
The Truth About Failure
Successful people understand that failure is not actually something to be feared. In fact, the opposite is true. Failure is often welcomed as it always results in an opportunity to grow, improve and learn something that you did not know before. Successful people believe that failure is an inevitability of life and that there is a lesson encapsulated in each one. The truth about failure is that it is common and that almost all great leaders and business men (and women) have experienced it. Henry Ford famously said, “Failure is simple the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” The reality is that all of humanity makes mistakes, however, the key to growing and improving is to learn from those mistakes rather than to dwell on them and give up.
Fear is Just a Noun
It must be noted that it’s not actually the act or event of failure that prevents people from moving outside of their comfort zone. It is, however, fear itself that tends to paralyze people. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by the anticipation or awareness of danger.” Our bodies were designed with a fear response to protect us from harm. We fear wild animals for they may bite us. In the same way we fear so many things like starting businesses, investing our money, going back to school or even going for that promotion because we might fail (or appear as a fool). Your business may go bankrupt, you could lose everything on the stock market, you could flunk out of school, or the promotion could be handed to someone else. However, you could also succeed at all of those things as well. The key term here is “could.” For no one is blessed with the gift of foreknowledge; there is no success without risk and all risks come with the potential for failure.
Conquering Your Fears
If the fear of failure holds most people back from success than it follows by simple logic that the key to success is to conquer that fear. Conquering the fear of failure can be achieved by developing self discipline and the strong desire to achieve success at any cost. One of the first things you can do is to make the realization that failure is not a means to an end but end to a means. Failure is simply one of many options on the spectrum.
After you’ve accepted the real possibility of failure the next step is to work towards minimizing risk. This is accomplished through a variety of mechanisms but primarily through knowledge acquisition. Learn everything that you possibly can about the subject, field, or business that you are looking to break into.
When you have a full understanding of the topic at hand the risk of failure can be significantly reduced.
Another way to reduce risk is to build yourself a cushion and a circle of support. Surround yourself with individuals whom you trust and you can turn to for support in difficult times. If while rooting for your success failure happens then your circle of friends and a family will be there with a safety net to catch you.
Another tip to follow is to model the behaviors of successful people that came before you. Finding a mentor can go a very long way to helping you find success. Not only can they be an advocate for your success, your mentor can coach you and guide you when times get tough. And even if you don’t have a personal connection with a successful individual, simply watching them and applying their tactics to your life can give you the edge that you need to win. This technique alone can save you many headaches as you’ll have the benefit of learning from the mistakes and failures (as well as the accomplishments) that they’ve experienced.
The famous author Napoleon Hill was quoted as saying ” Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” To achieve greatness you must be willing to sacrifice things such as your time, your money, your career and even your reputation for the chance to become a greater version of yourself. Not all of those who put in effort will succeed; however, all who fail to try will fail to succeed. Professional hockey player Wayne Gretzky stated it like this: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Once you’ve decided what you want in life taking that first step is always the hardest one. It doesn’t have to be a leap, in fact, a baby step will do just fine. Set an achievable goal and then develop a detailed plan on how to get there. You may not have all the answers but I’m sure with a little postulating you’ll be able to develop a vision for the dream that you want to achieve. So put aside your fears and dream big!