Don’t fear failure

Why Crossing the ‘Start’​ Line is more Important than Crossing the ‘Finish’​ Line.

Don’t fear failure!  Too often, I come across people who are upset and unhappy because of all the things at which they’re failing. They fear failure. Often we start out with the best intentions, have a goal we want to achieve but lack the discipline to make it happen.  If asked why, the answer can be  quite complicated and lengthy as we start to feel uncomfortable in justifying it. Usually we start off with great gusto and then life kind of gets in the way and then, well, it just stops because we feel bad about not doing it.  And so we stop bothering – we don’t cross the start line any more.

Sadly, this is an all too familiar pattern, and is the same in many areas of life and in business. How often have you seen this fear of failure in the workplace?  Someone makes a list of what to accomplish in the day, week or month, gets a few days in and then something gets in the way and they miss a deadline.  And once one deadline is missed, the domino effect kicks in.  What is the point? This may well be a pattern that’s familiar to you.

If you do it enough, i.e. fail regularly against your plan, then you quickly stop making plans or commitments because it of how it makes you feel. So why does this happen?

Why do we fail?

The problem can be a combination of many, different things. In our experience, these three things sit at the root of most of the ‘perceived’ failures;

  1. Setting a goal that requires too much change, way too quickly, i.e. from 0-60 in 1 second
  2. Setting a goal that we perceive is too hard to exceed
  3. Being too hard on ourselves – and the resultant ‘feelings’

For most people it is a matter of discipline. We really do want the result, but maybe not at the expense of everything it will take to achieve it.  For some, it is motivation.  If we want the result enough, we’ll do whatever it takes. Don’t fear failure – let mindset play a part in whether we are or are not successful. As the great Henry Ford once said;

 “Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t, you are correct”. 

However, focusing on it and believing in the end result isn’t enough. You have to take the action.

Start with a realistic goal

Let’s assume achieving your goal is like winning a 1 mile race. The current world record for the mile is 3:43.13 (set by Hicham El Guerrouj, in 1999), so if your goal is to set a new world record, you’re more than likely going to be disappointed. However – and this is where it gets really interesting – if you’re in a race with others like you, as we often are in business, and they’re doing the equivalent of running a mile in, say, 4 minutes 30 seconds – then you only need to run it in 4:29 to be the best in the business! If you set your goal as beating 3:43.13 – then, chances are very high that you’re going to be very disappointed. Yet, you still win by completing it in 4:29:05.

Our ability to perform well is very much related to how we feel. If we feel like a failure, we’re most likely to keep failing. But if we feel like we’re winning, we’re most likely to perform better and enjoy it more too.

If you set a goal to do something EVERY day, how can you possibly expect to exceed your goal?  With a goal to do something every day, you have 365 opportunities to fail in a year and only one chance to succeed and no chance of exceeding your goal.   How likely is it that you’ll feel good? With odds stacked against you, you are more likely to fail and the more you don’t meet targets that are too challenging, the worse you will feel and more likely to just give up altogether.

So, here’s a thought…

Don’t fear failure

A fabulous way to move towards achieving more and more success is to develop a great attitude towards failure, because failure is absolutely going to happen. Failing is okay. Failing is okay because it’s a sign that you’re trying – you’re doing more than you did and getting further than those who never tried at all.   Failing is a learning experience that teaches us we are not there … YET!

You will fail, and you NEED to fail.  Failure is not an obstacle or setback but instead a necessary stepping-stone that brings you closer to achieving your goal. The sooner you fail, the less afraid you are to fail again. When you see your life did not fall apart you will lose that irrational fear that the unknown brings and it cushions the fear of future failures. Failure helps us see what we can improve, where we went wrong, and how we can do it better.  Bill Gates, one of the most influential thinkers and business leaders of our generation, failed before he achieved his great success and that is what led him to become the best version of himself. His failure was not a setback, but a driving force.  If you are not failing then you are not pushing yourself enough.

Build on small successes

Perhaps the quickest route to success is to set small goals – plan them, prepare, and then have a go. As you start to increase the frequency of successes, then look to increase the goal, and try again.  Re-calibrate your baseline every time.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you fail in the same way multiple times and cannot see why or learn from it,  then maybe it’s time to ask for help

And remember, every small failure along the path is cause for celebration. Why? Because we’re getting closer to the finish line. Does that matter? What matters is continuing to cross the start line.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great – Zig Ziglar

If you are stuck with the same issues and unable to get closer to your goals – we are here to help.  Book a free call today.

Book a call