GETTING FREE FROM THE FEAR OF FAILURE
Jenny got up that morning with swollen eyes and a terrible headache and was about taking a drastic decision. For close to two weeks now she’s been crying herself to sleep being inconsolable since her last breakup. “Four successive heartbreaks?” she thought, “if it’s just to be hurt at the end, then I’ll better stay away from this “love” thing.”
Okay, did you see Jenny’s decision? That sounds sad right? She decided to close her heart to love for fear of being hurt, and that’s how many of us react in such situations. Whether in business, in our vision, in academics or in relationships, in the face of failure we tend to close ourselves to any other opportunity, we settle in our shell and avoid trying again. All this because we’re afraid to fail again. Though this may look like an effective protection mechanism, it’s in reality and sadly, a self caging and stagnation program. I hope this article succeeds in bringing you to this reality and empower you to get out of that cage ;-)!
Let’s first see what is fear of failure in itself; Fear is defined as an emotion experienced in anticipation of a pain or danger (in our case, it’s the pain or danger of failure). Now, a failure is an event that doesn’t accomplish its intended purpose. Failure is the lack of success.
So, when we talk of fear of failure, we’re talking of being afraid of the pain of lack of success. Also we want to avoid the self degrading feeling that comes with failure. We want to avoid people thinking negatively about us or criticizing us. It mostly results from repeated failure experiences or fear of disappointing people. So we decide to stay in our comfort zone, we avoid taking risks and we go for the easy things. Fear of failure draws a circumferential line around you and keeps you on the same spot. That’s why I call it a stagnation program. It dictates how far you should go, determines all the great things you shouldn’t try to accomplish, and the good things you shouldn’t try to enjoy.
Fear of failure might lie in our subconscious but it’s effects are very visible in our day to day life; a student who is always reluctant to raise his hand in class to answer a question even when he has the correct answer is afraid of failure; a man who is full of ideas that will grow his business but is always reluctant taking the first step and making the necessary investments, is afraid of failure; a woman who’s been on a job she hates for 10 years and has always dreamed of creating her own company but won’t take the bold step towards her dream, is afraid of failure. I could give so many examples but just think of your own life, think of the things you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve been gripped by fear. Now, ask yourself this question; “do I want to be free from this fear?”
If your answer to the previous question is YES, then we may proceed to the next step which is to know how. Before I continue, I need you to understand that you’ll get your freedom mainly through a mind transformation. This is because the limitation in mostly mental than anything else. The cage is in your mind and only you can set yourself free! So now let’s go;
1-) Understand that failure is part of the process: You are human! You are prone to mistakes. You are not a robot perfectly built to perform every activity perfectly well (robots too, sometimes fail, Lol). John Maxwell in his book “How high will you climb” says “Very little comes out right the first time. Failure, repeated failure, are fingerprints on the road to achievement”. Most at times we only celebrate great men when they’ve reached the top. We fail to see how they suffered, stumbled and rose up again and again, failed and kept on trying. Consider the lives of Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump then you’ll understand what I mean. These are people who failed blatantly but ended up on top. You may not even go that far, perhaps in your close environment you know someone who after many failures succeeded in doing something significant that took his/her life ahead. Even the Holy Scriptures gives room for mistakes; Proverbs 24; 16 for a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again (KJV). That you fell doesn’t mean you should remain on the ground, rise up again! It’s part of the process. Settle it in your mind!
2-) Let your failures be lessons not lashes. Depending on how you perceive it, failure could either teach you many things or be a constant punishment for your ignorance. The ultimate fact is that failure arises as a result of our ignorance. It’s either we didn’t know what to do or we didn’t know how to do it. Sometimes we think we know but experience proves us wrong. As such, a cure to failure is knowledge and wisdom which could be acquired from that same failure.
Every mistake is an opportunity to learn. Just ask yourself; what did I do wrong? How could I have done it better? Which skills do I need to ameliorate or acquire? Who can teach me how to do this better? By the time you answer these questions and do the necessary adjustments, you are already equipped to perform better the next time. And that’s how you start beating failure!
This can be applied in every aspect of our lives. Consider the story of Jenny who has experienced four consecutive heartbreaks, the questions she should be asking herself is; why is it not working? Is anything wrong with me? If yes, then what? Am I using the wrong criteria in choosing men? Which criteria do I need to change or include? Do I need to learn more about relationships? Etc. Handling these questions based on her past relationships will for sure make a great difference in her life.
So let your failures be lessons! If you see it in this light then every mistake will be a stepping stone to your place of all round success!
3- ) Real failure is when you give up. Do you know how a young lion learns to hunt? If you observe you’ll realize that no matter how much it fails it keeps on trying. And no matter how many times it may have failed, at the end, when it has a mastery of it, it becomes a success and its past failures are no longer taken into account. It doesn’t matter how many times you stumbled during a competition, when at the end you win the prize you are called a winner. Therefore, I believe you become a failure only when you decide to give up and stop trying.
John Maxwell also says in “How high will you climb” that “To accept failure as final is to be finally a failure”. So what you should be afraid of is not failure, but rather to end up as a failure. I therefore urge you; determine not to end up as a failure! All the great successes of today are those who refused to give up yesterday. It might not be easy, but keep your eyes on the price; if you really want it then I know you won’t give up!
4- ) Ensure you are doing the right thing. Have you ever tried drinking tea with a fork (Lol). That’s a very useless activity because no matter how much you persist you won’t accomplish anything significant. Why? Because the fork wasn’t meant for that. Listen, as much as persistence is a necessary and valuable virtue in life, we must make sure we are persisting in the right things. By right things here, I mean things which are in accordance with your God given purpose and vision, things in accordance with God’s plan.
Knowing God’s will for your life may not always be easy, but if you really want to know and are ready to obey, He will direct you. One reason why people fail is because they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re either in the wrong business, wrong relationship or studying the wrong course in school. Now, I’m not saying that whenever you do God’s will you never fail. You will for sure face failure. Sometimes God Himself will permit it so that you should learn (as we said in point two). But even in the midst of that failure you will have the confidence that whatsoever He has called you to do, He will fulfill. God says in Isaiah 46; 10 “… yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (KJV). God has never failed yet and He won’t start with you lol!
If you weren’t doing that, start seeking his will for your life. Do your part, follow the divine plan, remain steadfast and God will do His part. Remember this; no amount of failure and mistake can ever change God’s faithfulness. So stop being afraid to fail and start putting your confidence in God.
Please take note here that I am not asking you to get comfortable with failure, but I just want you to change the way you perceive it, so it can help build you up and not destroy you! The scriptures say we are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8; 37). It also says we (children of God) are the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28; 13). That’s God’s word about you and it stands forever, the prevailing circumstances notwithstanding. So accept it! Claim it! And live it!
There you go! I believe this has been helpful. I’ll be glad to hear from you; how has this post helped you? Any other idea on how to get rid of this fear?
Also, don’t forget to share with someone you know needs this. Love you❤!