Confession time – I used to be a cynical teen (surprise, surprise). I believe the quote I shared in one of my high school yearbooks was: “If at first you don’t succeed, give up, there’s no sense in making a fool of yourself!” Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of motto I live by today, but it’s a clear indication of the type of mindset that once held me back from pursuing my hopes and dreams. Fear of failure is something that holds a lot of us back from going after the things that we want in life. If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s that not trying is worse than failure. When I’ve tried to do something and it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, of course there was disappointment and sadness at first. Once I’m able to shake that off, it’s about looking at what the failure has taught me.
Not only are there lessons to learn when we experience failure, but at least we know we gave it a try! I don’t know how many people, myself included, that have not pursued their dreams because of the fear of it leading to disappointment rather than success. What does failure really mean, anyway? Are we failures because there are things that we set out to do that didn’t work out the way we planned? If that’s the case, the world is full of failures, including some of the most accomplished people in the world!
The reality is that we’ve all experience failure at some point or another in our lives. I’ve found it to be one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had! Failure teaches us that we aren’t in complete control of everything, all the time. There are always going to be things that are out of our control, unknown circumstances or situations that we couldn’t plan for, no matter what. Instead of beating ourselves up about our failures, we should be celebrating the fact that we took a chance and made an effort. Rather than throwing in the towel, we should be looking at how to adjust the plan to achieve the success we want in the future.
I know I’ve mentioned this in blog posts before, but if you haven’t read the book Think and Grow Rich, I highly recommend it. If you don’t have the time to read the entire book at the moment (I’m sure you can get the audio book!), then I suggest you focus on the chapter on Persistence if you’re struggling with the fear of failure or have experienced it in the pursuit of your goals and are feeling uninspired. The chapter is full of great examples of the magic that happens when we are so committed to achieving our dreams that quitting is not an option.
If I could change my yearbook quote, I would make it a more optimistic one. Instead of encouraging my colleagues to walk away in the face of failure, I would tell them to persist! “If at first you don’t succeed, tweak the plan and try again! The rewards waiting for you are worth it!” ♥