Photo courtesy of Llywelyn Nys

Are You Afraid of Failing? I Am.

During my teenage years and into my twenties, I acted like I wasn’t afraid of anything. Maybe I thought it made me look tough. Strong. Invincible. Or maybe it was because I grew up in Guatemala — one of the most dangerous countries in the world at the time — where we had to walk, talk, and act confidently so we didn’t stick out as potential prey for violent wrongdoers. I don’t really know. In retrospect, I probably looked like a fool for spending most of my life acting like I didn’t fear anything. Truthfully, I fear many things.

I’m fairly afraid of snakes.

I’m extremely afraid of heights.

I’m cripplingly afraid of something terrible happening to my children.

The list could go on and on and on but you get the picture. I come face-to-face with my fears everyday. So do you. And let me be clear, I’m fine living with some of these fears. I don’t care that I get a gut-wrenching feeling every time I lean over a fourth-story balcony. I don’t care that I step into the woods or wade through a creek completely prepared to karate chop the crap out of any snake I may encounter. But there are certain fears that I need to face head-on and conquer. Namely, the fear of failure.

“No man ever achieved worth-while success who did not, at one time or other, find himself with at least one foot hanging well over the brink of failure.” — Napoleon Hill

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” — Steve Jobs

Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing. — J.K. Rowling

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

“Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person.” — Seth Godin

“Because the truth is, that is the hardest part. And ironically, that is the one big thing standing in your way. Just executing. Nobody can argue with execution. Once you’re getting shit done, you’re on your way. But taking that first step can be terrifying. I get it. I really do. Fear of failure can take over. And lots of us have this fear.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

Napoleon is right. Steve is right. J.K. is right. Michael, Winston, Seth, Gary — they’re all right. To summarize these phenomenal quotes, the way forward is to become acutely aware of our fear of failure and to, subsequently, overcome it. We should be completely fine with failing, as long as we fail forward (a little John Maxwell for you). In addition, don’t simply fail, fail publicly. If you’re going to fail, I want to see so I can learn from your failure(s). And vice-versa.

Is it really that simple? Yes, I think it is. Then why are so many people held captive to the fear of failure? I said it was simple, I didn’t say it would be easy. It is going to take a hell of a lot of work to overcome the fear of failure and become successful. Are you up for the challenge? I am.

As we wrap up, I have a question for you: How are you currently recognizing the fear of failure in your life and overcoming it? I want to know. Leave a comment below sharing how you’re overcoming the fear of failure. I’d love to interact with you on this.


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