Overcoming the Fear of Failure

This is my Coach’s Corner Column in the May edition of my monthly eMag The Leading Edge.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
– Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books)

Often the barrier to people starting a new business or changing their career is the fear of failure. The real question is what will you feel if you do not start or change? What does that failure look like?

I recently read some entrepreneurs’ thoughts on failure. Many talked about learning from their failures. In our society, we may say we learn from our failures but do we? Often we are risk averse, therefore we do not to take some risks that may result in failure or success. How often have we heard of some well-known entrepreneurs or business people who “failed” many times on their way to success? It does not mean we invite failure into our lives; it does mean that our relationship to failure needs to change from shame of the failure to learning from it.

Here are some questions which may help you overcome the fear of failure.

What would it look like if you didn’t make the change in your career, or start the new business? What does failure look like? What is the price of inaction? It is worth remembering that regrets can be worse than failures. Most entrepreneurs would tell you that the real failure is not trying something.

What do you fear? How may that fear be holding you up from achieving some great business or life goals? Often, when you really think about it, the fear is not life threatening, it is more about the fear of the unknown, or fear of change. The idea of the shame of failing in the eyes of others becomes too great and stops us in our tracks. It is important to acknowledge our fears, overcome the avoidance, and take the first small steps towards our dream.

How are you prepared to succeed? What does success look like? What steps do you need to take to move towards it? It becomes a shift in thinking, from dwelling on the fear to focusing on being successful. Do your research, create a solid business plan, look at all possibilities, and focus on the steps to growth.

What are you going to do to keep focused on the goal? How do you keep your “eyes on the prize?” Many people keep their mission statements or visions close at hand so they can see them on a daily basis to keep them inspired. Having measurable goals is another important way to gauge your progress. Whatever you do, get in the habit of focusing on your dream.

Who can help you? Accountability and sharing your vision with others is a good way to keep on track. Others have travelled this journey so do not be afraid to ask for assistance, advice and support. Finding a coach or mentor is a good way to bring an outside viewpoint.

These are a few ways to help you overcome that fear of failure and move towards the success you desire.