How to Overcome Fear of Failure & Follow Your Heart - 5 Practical Steps
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Fear of failure is one of the reasons we don't follow our heart or take risks. Fear of failure paralyses us to take any action in respect to our situation which makes us stuck in our position. And, growth only happens when we step out of our stuck situation. It is easier said than done, how do we deal with the fear of failure? Each one of us has it and it includes me. Following points would help you to deal with it in a better way:
1. The Sphere of Choice
There is a concept called The Sphere of Choice. Here there is Internal Concern and External Concern. This is also known as Locus of Control, where there is Internal and External Locus of Control. Look at the image in the blog post. The External Concern are the parameters on which we don't have any control like people's opinion about you, Mother Nature, calamity, past etc. The Internal Concern is what you think, say & do. What you can control is your character, values & behavior. These are the only things you can have direct control over. Yet we are stuck trying to control our external concern. Fear of failure comes from the effort of trying to control the External Concern. If we fail, we are afraid of people's opinions. We are trying to succeed for validation, and fear that failure would lead to rejection. But rejection from others is an External Concern. You cannot control it. Your job is to accept and validate yourself. This is the only thing you can control. So divert your energy on what you can do.
2. Listen to your soul
Try to figure out whatever task you are going to undertake, whether it's to boost your ego or to nourish your soul. Think about, how does succeeding in the task will feel like? Is it for image, fame, power, wanting to settle score or teach someone a lesson? This is coming from ego. If the thoughts about joy, passion, creativity, enjoying the process comes in your mind, it is coming from a place of Soul. So do it anyway irrespective of fear cropping up in between. Fears' job is to keep you safe. It worked well for our ancestors in our Hunter gatherer age where our fear ensured our survival. But now it is not required. To understand this even more, think like this, even if you failed in it, would you still want to try it again? For example, I have a passion for cooking creative dishes. But many times I have failed in it. The thought of putting in so much effort & time to prepare a dish only for it to turn out a disaster can demotivate many to try again. But even if I may have been demotivated at that point, I do find energy and courage to try it again after sometime. And I am not doing it for impressing anyone. I just Love the process of cooking and creating innovative dishes. I enjoy the process of eating a healthy nourishing soulful dish. So fear of failing at it doesn't scare me anymore. Hence, whatever task you are fearing failure at, just think whether despite failing & getting ridiculed at it, would you still be drawn to try it again? If yes, then don't worry about failures. Focus on the Internal Concern - the only thing you can control which is to Try without expectations from the external concern! Enjoy the Process & the Journey.
3. Validate yourself
When we are low on self love, we seek validation from the external concern i.e. people, society, family, friends. No one but you can approve & validate yourself. If you are doing things for approval and for fitting in, you will never be free. You will be a slave to the external Concern of whose opinion you can anyway never control. For example, Aishwarya Rai has been Miss World and is considered to be amongst the most beautiful women in the World. But there are many who don't find her beautiful. They might suggest her to go for plastic surgery to look even more beautiful. If she is low on self love, she might go for plastic surgery for seeking approval of these people. But then there would be again some people who wouldn't like her new plastic transformed look. So she is back to square one. The only person she needs approval of, is herself. But in the race to be ahead and loved, we forget to love ourselves. This is also the root cause of fearing failure. We look at failure as a measure of our self worth which is not true. You are worthy irrespective of your failures. Read this to increase your self love.
4. Failure is Feedback
Failure is nothing but feedback. In a way, it is a tool to tell that there are certain areas we need to work upon. For example, you have started a business, it didn't work well and in a couple of years you had to close it down. So either you can go into sulking that you failed. Or look at the feedback what the company's performance is trying to tell you. Where could you have improved? Did you understand the customer needs well? Did you manage the finances well? If you were to start building the business again, what measures you would take so that the mistakes don't repeat. Some of you might be hesitant to propose to someone you Love because of the fear of failure that the person might say No. But maybe the person might say Yes. How will you know until you asked them out? Even if they say No, do not take their No as a measure of you being good or bad. Take it as a feedback that maybe, right now you two together, are not right for each other.
5. Master your task
Lastly, mastering your task will minimise your fear of failure. When you are confident in your activity, you will operate from an abundant and positive Mindset than a fear mindset. If you have money or other important asset at stake, have a mentor to guide you who has been in the same shoes as you. Practise your work before putting it out there. Test run on a few people first, then try on a big scale. This will help you deal with the shortcomings in advance! Have a Plan B and Plan C ready if it doesn't work out. Read this to overcome self doubt.
When we do our work with the intention of enjoying the process rather than the destination, our fear around failure also minimises! Thus, hopefully this post will help you to gather courage to follow your heart and overcome fear of failure. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper company for lack of imagination & Original ideas. If he would have defined his worth on their opinion, we wouldn't have had the famous Disney brand with us. I would like to end this post with a quote, "If You Haven’t Failed, You Haven’t Tried Anything New Yet".
Comment below, where do you fear failure, and what action you will take to overcome it.