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World class leaders all have one thing in common. They fail often. 

But they don’t stay there. They get back up. 

In my life, I’ve had many do-overs. I didn’t pass my 1st drivers test. I tried out for team captain of the pom squad my senior year, and not only did I not make captain, I didn’t even make the team. In college, I applied to physical therapy school three times and didn’t get in. When I was practicing as a PA, I worked for an orthopedic surgeon for six months; and I completely sucked. I’ve lost money in the stock market. I’ve made real estate investments that were flops.

But.

These didn’t stop me. Because guess what? I have my driver’s license. I didn’t get into PT school, but I was accepted to PA school. And I’m still investing in the stock market and real estate.  

So let’s dig into what exactly is “fear of failure?”

First off, it’s an emotion tied to a made-up outcome.

Everytime we consider starting something new and unknown, whether it’s a business, building a house, starting a new exercise program, etc. We tend to go to the “worst-case scenario:” WHAT IF I FAIL?

My question is, And so what if you do? 

Let’s say you go for something and it doesn’t work out. Well in that “going” you have learned valuable lessons about what worked and what didn’t and can use that knowledge next time based on your previous efforts. It’s also important to be proud of simply putting yourself out there and taking the risk. 

But if we really, I mean REALLY, ask ourselves what we are afraid of when it comes to failure, it is not the list of “mini what ifs”: What if my spouse doesn’t support me? What if I don’t have time because I have small kids? What if I lose money?

Because the truth is, our fear of failure comes from caring too much about what other people think!

And people will absolutely think their thinks. It’s how it goes. People will talk about us behind our backs and they will say I told you so…

So, what?! You (not them) were the one pushed out of your comfort zone, you (not them) tried something new. With that comes the choice to either let the experience grow you or let it define you. You must choose the first.

There is much freedom in not caring what other people think. You are not here to live your life based on pleasing others. Instead, you are like a beautifully wrapped gift waiting to be opened to reveal what’s on the inside. 

Now that we’ve hashed out the root beyond “fear of failure,” let’s move on to how to overcome it:

1. Lean into your fear.

You cannot wait until the fear goes away…it never does until you jump in. 

Consider jumping off a high-dive. As you climb to the top, nervousness and fear mounts. And that fear heightens as you leave the security of the ladder and venture out to the end of the board. Then fear peaks as you stare down into the water far far below. Now. Does your fear magically wash away the longer you stand at the top staring down? No. The only way to wash the fear away is to jump. And once you do, the fear is gone and it’s replaced with pride for taking the physical and emotional leap of faith.

2. Recognize that failure = progress 

Take ownership for your piece; however your situation played out. What was your responsibility in the situation? Did you give up? Did you blame others for your lack of success? Did you stop doing what you did to get there?

Make notes of the lesson you learned for next time.

3. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE.

Get that rhetoric out of your mind. One experience or even several experiences do not define your entire life, and they don’t predict future failure. 

The issue is we often allow one experience to keep us from trying again.

If everything you ever attempted was successful, you would never learn and never grow.

Let me leave you with this quote by Winston Churchill, “Fear is a reaction; Courage is a decision.”

The SUPERPOWER of successful people is feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

Unleash it! 

And Fail often!

I share more about fear in my Podcast #7: Fear of Failure. Head over to my podcast page for the link and listen on your favorite platform!