“Failing sucks. But it’s better than the alternative.”
“Not even trying. Life’s short, you know?”― Sarah Dessen, Along for the Ride
Nobody likes feeling like a failure. We would much rather feel accomplished, successful, and proud of our every move as opposed to feeling down on ourselves, unsuccessful, and like no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get it right. It’s human instinct to want to be the best.
But how much is this fear of failure actually holding us back in life? How much is our desire for perfection actually making us weaker individuals? How much is our fear of failure actually causing us to be more of a failure?
There’s no question about it, failing sucks. But it’s better than the alternative, which is not even trying. You are going to fail regardless of how much you try to shelter yourself from failure. But what everybody fails to realize is that the more you are willing to fail, the more you are willing to learn, and the more you are willing to learn, the more you are willing to succeed.
Simply put, you must be willing to fail in order to be willing to succeed.
Sheltering Yourself From Failure
I used to be a person who did whatever they could just to not experience failure in life. I was so insecure with myself that any feeling of failure would have completely eliminated the little amount of self-confidence that I had left remaining.
At the same time, I also wasn’t making any progress in life. I was not getting any closer to achieving my goals, I was not becoming the individual that I had always envisioned myself being, and I was failing more than ever at the one thing that I was trying to shelter myself from – the approval of others.
When you shelter yourself from failure, that’s what happens. You don’t take risks, you don’t learn from your mistakes, and you don’t make any progress towards becoming the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.
Failing sucks, but when you spend your life trying to avoid failure, you will fail even more.
The first step to overcoming your fear of failure is to define what failure means to you. Are you the type of individual who defines failure as anything but perfection? Do you define failure as trying once but falling flat on your face? Or do you define failure as never even finding the strength to try?
For most of us, we define failure as one of the first two definitions, anything but perfection, or trying but not being able to succeed.
Really, it is the third definition that best defines failure. We will never be perfect and we are always going to make mistakes, but unless we find the strength to give ourselves the opportunity to succeed in the first place, we are simply never going to know what we could have achieved.
Why We Need To Embrace Failure
We can choose to see failure as life’s way of telling us that we aren’t quite good enough so we should just give up and move onto the next desire that we have. Or, we can look at failure as life’s ultimate teacher. Every time we experience failure, we can choose to look for the lessons that we are meant to learn and use our failures as an opportunity to grow from who we are today into the person that we want to be.
Unless you choose to see failure as a growth opportunity, you are never going to live up to your true potential. The lessons that we learn from failure are vital as they help us to grow into a better person and to keep us from making that same mistake again.
Take a look at some of these successful individuals who experienced incredible amounts of failure but became better and stronger individuals because of the failure that they endured. Maybe if you do the same, you can end up on this same list one day.
- James Dyson is a British inventor and entrepreneur who founded Dyson Ltd. Yes, this is the same company that makes bladeless fans, the world’s best vacuums, and many other high-end pieces of technology. But before Dyson founded success, he failed at creating a working prototype more than 5,000 times. He built more than 5,126 vacuums before creating one that actually worked. As a result of never giving up and learning from his failures, he is now worth more than $6.2 billion.
- Warren Buffet is one of the world’s richest investors and businessmen. Coming out of high school, Buffett had to settle for attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as he was rejected from Harvard.
- Everybody knows the story of Michael Jordan. Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players to ever live, was cut from his high school team during his sophomore year for not being big enough and athletic enough to make the varsity team. Now, the six-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP is worth $2.1 billion.
- Last but definitely not least, Richard Branson. Branson is the owner of Virgin Mobile, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Cruises, and many more successful companies. But the truth is, Branson didn’t even finish high school. He ended up dropping out of school at age 15 to start a business magazine.
Now whether you choose to see these stories as failures or personal investments, I think we can all agree that there were a lot of risks to find the reward that these individuals found. Think of all the opportunities that you have passed on and will continue to pass on if you allow failure to stand in your way.
Failing sucks, but it can also teach us many things about ourselves that we would have failed to recognize had we not have taken a chance on ourselves in the first place.
How To Not Be Afraid of Failure
While it may be hard to move past your fear of failure, here are a few things that have helped me and what I believe will help you to overcome your fear of failure as well:
- Think of the potential rewards.
Many people shy away from failure because they fear of jumping into the unknown. I get it, I was there before. In some regards, I still am. But instead of looking at your failures, look at the rewards. Look at what could potentially become your reality if you take risks on yourself.
- Look at the worst-case scenario.
Often times, we shy away from failure because the worst-case scenario constantly plays over and over again in our minds. What we often fail to realize is that the worst-case scenario isn’t always that bad. Not only that, but the odds of the worst-case scenario actually coming true are slim to none.
- See your life having achieved your goals.
This one is going to take some self-reflection, but envision your life having achieved your dreams. How awesome would it be to actually achieve that life that you have long envisioned for yourself? Unless you overcome your fear of failure, you simply will never know.
Failing Sucks, But You Are Not A Failure
While you are going to experience many failures throughout the course of your life, it’s important to always remember that as long as you never give up on yourself and never stop moving forward, you will never be a failure.
Learn from your mistakes, grow from your mistakes, and become the best that you can be as a result of allowing yourself to make mistakes. You are not perfect, but you were never meant to be perfect. Let go of your fear of failure and allow yourself to fail forward in life.