From my vantage point in the cockpit, I’ve witnessed firsthand how swiftly conditions can change and how pivotal quick, confident decision-making can be. overcoming the fear of failure can become a life or death situation.
When the fear of failure (atychiphobia) looms overhead, everyone’s performance suffers.
As leaders, owners, and entrepreneurs, you’re piloting your complex missions in an ever-evolving business landscape where uncertainty is the only certainty.
In this high-stakes environment, fear of failure becomes a formidable adversary.
It’s a fear that can clip your wings, causing hesitation, stifling innovation, and preventing the daring maneuvers required to reach new heights and capture the opportunities in front of you.
Overcoming this fear is a battle, often exacerbated by the relentless pace of change and the pressure to adapt and innovate continuously.
Ever notice how that fear sneaks up on us?
Fear of failure can manifest itself in many ways, including:
- We’re suddenly the kings and queens of procrastination, putting off tasks to avoid potential slip-ups and, sadly, letting great opportunities slide by.
- We obsess over perfection, stifling our creativity and growth.
- We start dodging challenges, putting a lid on our personal and professional growth.
- We get caught up in self-sabotage, undermining our success due to a misplaced belief that we’re not worthy.
- Our decision-making gets cloudy, leading us to make poor choices at work and home.
Our brains are hardwired to fear failure as a survival mechanism
The science-based truth about fear of failure lies in understanding that it is a natural response of the human brain, designed to keep us safe from threats.
This is a comforting fact. Remember, this fear of failure is just our brain trying to protect us. But in our complex, modern lives, this safety mechanism can sometimes do more harm than good, standing between us and our fullest potential.
But in our fast-paced, complex world, this instinct can become more of a hindrance than a help, holding us back from achieving our full potential.
So, what needs to change?
So how can we flip the script on our fear of failure?
To overcome the fear of failure, here are ten changes we can make:
- Acknowledge the fear: Recognize your fear of failure and accept it as a normal human emotion.
- Reframe failure: Understand that failure is a learning opportunity and a bridge towards success.
- Set realistic goals: Unfortunately, the bigger the goal, the louder the voices of uncertainty (both external and internal) can be. There is a path through that, though.
What do clearly defined goals look like? They look like WINS Clearly defined goals should be:
- Written down
- Supported by an action plan
*Create achievable, measurable objectives that allow for incremental progress.
- Chunk the impossible: Break tasks into manageable steps. Divide your goals into smaller tasks to reduce the overwhelming sensation of fear.
- Develop a growth mindset: Embrace the idea that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
- Don’t go it alone: Everyone needs a wingman. Reach out to friends, family, or mentors to share your concerns and receive guidance.
- Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself kindly and acknowledge that everyone experiences failure at some point.
- Focus on your strengths: Identify and use your unique skills and talents to your advantage.
- Face your fears: Expose yourself to situations that trigger your fear of failure. The more we expose ourselves to situations that scare us, the more strength, courage, and confidence we develop.
- Reflect and learn: After each experience, assess what you have learned and how you can apply that knowledge next time.
By embracing these changes and taking purposeful action, we can shift our perspective on failure and unlock our full potential in our personal and professional lives.
The fear of failure is not our enemy; it is an opportunity to grow, evolve, and, ultimately, succeed.
Sitting around hoping, wishing, dreaming of a better future for yourself or your team will not magically make stuff happen.
Be intentional, be tenacious, be resilient and be courageous.
Bold, fearless action drives success.
Your challenge is to confront your fears, to summon up the courage in spite of your fears and go for it anyway. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. You learn to be fearless by living—not by being afraid.
Fearless leadership is the difference between creating the life, or the organization that you want, and settling.