Why is the thought of failure so terrifying for most of us?
Why does it keep us from launching out into the unknown, from trying new things, from taking risks, from pursuing our dreams?
Is it because we have allowed our self-worth to be based on our performance? Do we think the only way we’ll be accepted is if we never fail? Do we communicate that message to our children, too?
Has perfectionism or “playing it safe” unintentionally become a god?
As young children learn to walk, they fall repeatedly. But with each passing day, falls become less and less frequent as walking confidence grows. And walking quickly transitions to running.
Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, is famous for saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” What if he had given up after finding so many non-viable approaches?
Successful entrepreneurs, like Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, almost always have failure in their background. They were fired as corporate executives at another home improvement chain before launching The Home Depot. And Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in the early years. Yes, fired.
Abraham Lincoln’s record of election failures is well documented. What if he had given up? And yet, how often do we conclude we’re not supposed to pursue a given path because we have failed once or twice?
Even incredibly successful baseball players like Ted Williams consistently “failed” 7 out of every 10 times at bat.
The truth is that failure is an integral part of success. We often learn more from our failures than our successes.
My dear mother was a “black-belt” in worrying. I was raised to be risk-adverse. And yet throughout my adult life, I have realized, again and again, that failure needs to be embraced as a tremendous fertilizer for growth. (And I have lots of fertilizer!)
If you struggle with fear-of-failure paralysis, I hope that these hard-learned tips will help you move forward:
If you are committed to growing throughout your life, you will face failure. Instead of fearing it or dreading it, embrace your failures. Ask God to help you squeeze every ounce of wisdom from your failures.
Your future will be more fulfilling if you make the simple commitment to embrace and learn from your failures. I speak from lots of experience!
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