Fear of failure is one of the most common fears in humans.
Then again, it’s no wonder. Many of us have experiences from our early school days when, for example, we have answered a teacher’s question incorrectly in class and other students have laughed at our answer.
The fear of failure has, in fact, been reinforced throughout our school lives. In exams, our teachers have highlighted the mistakes we made, sometimes even with a red pen! The more incorrect answers, the worse the grade. So we’ve been taught that mistakes are a bad thing.
“We were raised to think that failure is bad. But truthfully, failure is the cornerstone of success.” -Dean Graziosi
Unfortunately, for many, the same has happened in working life: If you make a mistake, you are being addressed by your boss, at worst you get fired.
Throughout our lives, we are scolded and criticized for the mistakes we make more than praised for our successes.
So it’s no wonder we learn to be afraid of failures.
The Fear of Failure Is Not Innate to Us
Think about it: had you been afraid of failures since you were born, you would hardly have learned to walk. As a small baby, you would have watched the bigger people walk, but thought in your small mind, “If I now try to get up and take steps and then fall on my butt, those others who already know how to walk will laugh at me. It’s not nice. It’s best I just stay crawling on the floor.”
No. As a small child, you got up and fell. You took a step and fell. Many times. Until you learned to walk. And then run and jump and hop. You failed in your attempts numerous times, but you weren’t discouraged, and you weren’t even afraid of failure. The desire to learn was much greater than your fear of failure.
So what the hell happened along the way?
As I stated above, the reactions of our environment and our experiences about them brought about the change.
Failures Are a Prerequisite for Development
“Disappointment is a lot better than never trying.” -Dr. Richard Bandler
It is said that Thomas Edison made a thousand (according to some sources as many as 10,000) failed attempts to create a light bulb until he succeeded. When Edison was asked what it felt like to fail so many times, he replied, “I didn’t fail! I managed to find a thousand ways that didn’t work.”
Likewise, if as a baby you after a couple of attempts to stand up had said to yourself in depression, “Shit! This is not going to work! Keep your walks, I’ve had it,“ your life would be very different.
To succeed, you had to fail numerous times. But eventually you learned to walk. And the same goes for many other skills you’ve learned over the course of your life.
“I have learned more from my failures than my success.” – Richard Branson
How to Change Fear?
The fear of failure, like almost all of our other fears, is thus a learned response to failures. It is not innate.
So since it is a learned response, you can also learn a different kind of response to failures.
The first question is: How would you like to deal with failures in the future?
Whatever your answer, focus on those emotional states whenever you think about doing something you may not know how to do yet.
Sometimes, however, our fears are already so deeply ingrained in our neurology that they cannot be changed simply by focusing on positive emotional states and outcomes.
Fortunately, though, there are several techniques that you can use to first “fade out” your old fear response and then build a new one that serves you better.
You can also learn more about how NLP coaching can help you. The great news is also that only one coaching meeting is most likely to be needed to change your fears!
Unnecessary fears limit our lives. The question is: What would be possible for you if you didn’t have those fears? What could you do?
Not only are you most likely to achieve significant things in your life without unnecessary fears, in addition, you will most certainly enjoy your life more without those fears.
“I have missed more than 9 000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot, and missed. I have failed over, and over, and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan