Fail Upward- Is Fear of Failure Holding You Back?
As J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, once famously said, “We are all failures — at least the best of us are.” This week, may all your failures be opportunities in disguise!
Is Fear of Failure Holding You Back?
Nobody likes failing. In fact, most of us dread it. But while it may seem like failure is the worst case scenario, it may be just the opposite: The worst case scenario might actually be that fear of failing stops you from being successful. Here are just a few ways that fear of failure may be holding you back:
It takes an emotional toll. Living in fear in an exhausting way to live. Negative emotional mindsets like fear can damage everything from your relationships to your physical health.
It limits your potential. Our fear of failure strikes the hardest when we leave our comfort zones. People who let that fear govern them are less likely to push their boundaries and try new things — even if those new things could be incredible. Fear of failure forces you to play it safe, which is never the path to success.
It’s being blown out of proportion. Next time you’re afraid of failing, stop and asking yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Most of the time, even the worst possible result (which is unlikely to happen) isn’t the end of the world.
Instead of seeing failure as the end of the line, try looking at it as a step in the process. Everyone fails — it’s the people who keep trying who eventually reach the finish line!
How to Learn From Your Failures
Of course, failure in itself doesn’t cause growth; you have to learn from those failures in order for them to benefit you.
First, Identify the Failure
Understanding what went wrong and why is the first step to learning from failure. Harvard Business Review asserts that failures can be either “blameworthy” or “praiseworthy” based on why they occurred. For instance, a failure as a result of inattention is blameworthy, whereas a failure as a result of taking a risk and trying something new is not. A failure caused by deviation from prescribed processes is blameworthy, while failure as a result of a flawed prescribed process is not.
Next, Choose Your Response
Once you recognize why you’ve failed, you can move forward. If you find that you failed because of your own poor performance, such as forgetfulness or rushing your work, the solution is simple: Whether or not you repeat those mistakes if entirely up to you. If you find that you are often failing for the same reason, you can target your self improvement at that particular issue.
However, if you find that you’re failing for a “praiseworthy” reason, don’t take it too hard! Those failures are not signs that you’re doing something wrong. Some failure is inevitable, and if you let the fear of it stop you from trying new things, taking risks, and pushing your boundaries, you’ll be handicapping your own future success.
While “failing upward” or “failing successfully” might seem like oxymorons, they merely refer to finding the learning experience in any failure, and using it to emerge from the experience with new knowledge. To fail upward, you should come away from every mistake with an understanding of how to do better next time. That means taking the time to analyze. Go deeper than the surface level and truly ask yourself why each failure occurred. Otherwise, you may continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over.
Above all, remember that failure is temporary! Every successful person has failures in their past — and almost certainly in their future, too. If you learn to use your failures to grow, you have nothing to fear!