Fear of failure. I don’t know about you – but for a long time this has been something that has slowed me down, if not stopped me, from doing the things I want to do, being the person I want to be and just being completely awesome (still a work in progress).
Let’s take it up a level. If you also view failure as anything less than perfection, then that view is seriously going to haunt EVERY decision you make.
And in practice that way of thinking looks like:
- The presentation I did to 300 people being a complete failure because it didn’t go word perfect.
- The project that was delivered and had a huge positive impact on our business, but a problem supplier meant the project ran late – and I couldn’t look beyond this.
- Seeing anyone else contributing to my work as a failure, because clearly, I should have all the answers. All the time.
So I made a commitment to myself recently.
Something simple that I could follow – ‘doing nothing, procrastinating and not committing to something is worse than failing’. This was inspired by a colleague who has, for as long as I have known him, had the following status on his messaging app at work – ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’.
In other words, doing nothing might have protected me from failing, but guaranteed I wouldn’t achieve what I was aiming for.
I also found this website (courtesy of We are unstuck) which lists the number of apologies made by transport providers – 24,551 this year at the time of writing (and it’s only January). That’s a lot of apologies and a lot of mistakes and the world still turns.
So now I tell myself that doing nothing, or not committing in full, so I can at least make excuses for failure, will get me nowhere.
I am just getting on with things. If they don’t go well that’s ok, I learn from it – because really, most of the lessons I have learned, that have helped me as a person – have been from all the things that have gone wrong, not been perfect or failed completely.
They are the reason behind the things that are going well for me today.
So failure isn’t a bad thing – it’s vital and it’s more than likely to happen in some form or another.
And failure must be in perspective – projects, presentations, the weekend of family fun meticulously planned not going exactly as you had hoped is not the end of the world.
It’s ok to be wrong, to make mistakes – learn from it, stop giving yourself a hard time, improve it and keep your perspective.