Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford
An acquaintance of mine had an opportunity to interview the late, great actor Vincent Price about 30 years ago, but though she admired Price’s work, she handed the assignment to someone else. That writer had a pleasant interview with Price, followed by a private breakfast with him.
Why did my acquaintance avoid this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? Price, who was renowned for his deep, distinctive voice, had asked that the interview take place by phone, and she had been teased often about her voice sounding child-like. Without meeting him face-to-face, she feared he would not take her seriously.
To this day, she regrets letting her demons stop her from doing the interview.
Fear of failure (atychiphobia ) can be immobilizing; it can prevent you from achieving your goals, moving up in your career, and seizing opportunities that come along.
Everyone experiences some degree of this, rooted in causes both big and small. It could be a mistake made earlier in your career that led to disastrous results; lack of job security; experiencing unemployment; encountering an environment in which you were undermined or humiliated; growing up in a critical, unsupportive family, or, like my acquaintance, sensitivity over a self-perceived flaw.
Allowing your demons to weigh on you can inhibit your productivity, bringing about exactly the failure you fear. You may feel anxious or insecure, so you procrastinate or avoid big projects. Conversely, you may become a perfectionist, only taking on work you know you can finish successfully, thereby limiting your effectiveness. You’re allowing fear of failure to sabotage your work.
While no one can banish their inner demons altogether, you can tackle them before they bring you down.
You can take action to minimize fear, especially when you’re poised to take a big step or embark on an important project. Never jump in blindly; instead, consider all potential outcomes, including the worst-case scenario. Plan ahead for ways to handle difficulties that might come along. Knowing you have a contingency plan can give you more confidence about moving forward.
Set realistic, achievable goals
Lofty goals can trigger fear of failure, but you still can reach them. Map out small, achievable goals for yourself that will move you forward — each one you accomplish will build your self-confidence and keep you from being overwhelmed by the vision of your ultimate objective.
If you stumble along the way, don’t dwell on the defeat. Instead, view it as a learning experience. If something goes wrong, accept responsibility and then analyze the causes. Learn from your errors to avoid repeating them.
Remember, everyone has a choice: you can choose to let fear stop you, or choose to tackle your demons and reach your goals.