If you’re wondering how to overcome fear of failure, you’re in the right place. This article will give you actionable steps to overcome your fear of failing.
Here’s the scenario…
You’re about to try something bigger than you’ve ever done before. You’ve sold one-on-one before. You’ve sold door to door, over the phone, and thru email. You’ve had doors slammed and been offered gifts, so you know the gamut of responses to selling your products and services. This time is different though…
This time you’ll be giving a sales pitch before thousands of people and proclaiming the amount you want to raise on the stage. The idea of putting yourself out there makes you sweaty all over.
You’re thinking, “What if people get upset and leave?”, “What if the crowd gets angry or offended?”, “What if you don’t meet the amount you want to raise tonight….wouldn’t that be embarrassing?”
All of these thoughts are going thru your head.
Fear of Failure is a Norm
Every person I know has some fear of failing. As bold, brave, and heroic as someone may seem, they still feel that nervousness and anxiety when they set a goal they’ve presupposed is “big”.
The sweaty palms, knot in the throat, or mind roaming with questions like, “Can I….?” or “What if…?” is all normal. Some people respond differently to the triggers that result from the fear of failure, and their response separates them from others.
Some people don’t think of the fear of failure as a red flag meaning “stop”. Some think of it as a trigger signaling a “growth opportunity”. Big difference.
The Normal Response
We’ve all heard the statistic that 80% of small businesses fail and I’ve given 10 reasons why. The horrific statistics alone have changed many people’s minds about even giving entrepreneurship a chance. They assume that if 80% of people could not succeed in business, why would they be any different?
Their assessment is valid. 80% is high. The majority fail.
Others look at the 80% statistic and say, “They failed, but why can’t I be a part of the 20% that don’t?”. Drastic difference.
There are contributing factors that separate those who strive to be the 20%. The same contributing factors make those who make big goals (the kind that makes them sweat) decide to persevere and take action. They are:
In his interview on the Passionate Few, Ed Mylett said, “Self-confidence comes from making promises to ourselves and keeping them”. Many people have disappointed themselves so many times that they underestimate what they’re capable of.
They may be in a downward spiral of making bad decisions like bad relationships, bad dieting, bad financial decisions, bad parenting, or the list goes on and on. When you tell yourself, “I’m going to do…”, and you let yourself down, it wreaks havoc on your confidence.
It could be something simple like a commitment to no longer drink Kool Aid. If you commit to yourself that you’re not going to drink it, but you let the temptation get heightened enough that you choose to go after it, it effects your confidence.
With time, you start to feel that if you can’t do one thing, then you can’t do other things, and it gets worse from there UNTIL you start keeping commitments to yourself.
A lot of people find that fitness helps build self-esteem because it requires discipline, short intervals of personal challenge, and it enables you to see that you can keep personal commitments.
Business can also have the effect of improving confidence. You set a sales goal and you keep it to yourself, then you build confidence. People who have high confidence have a high level of personal integrity with themselves.
Added onto being trustworthy within, people who overcome the fear of failure have discipline. They learn to push past their willpower to reach goals.
There are times when you have to do things you don’t want to do. For example, you may want to eat the elaborate meal, but you don’t want to cook or wash the dishes.
In order to be successful in many things in life, you have to push past your willpower to get to the goal. The best basketball players have to practice even when they don’t want to. The best media icons have to practice even when they don’t want to. The best of the best know how to transcend their will, and put it into subjection to their goals.
You can’t push past your willpower without a commitment. A business plan without a commitment is simply a nice looking piece of paper.
Commitment is at the heart of every successful venture. The commitment breeds the self-discipline, stimulates the work ethic, and drives the willingness to prepare.
While I don’t believe the hardest physical workers are the most successful, I do believe work ethic is key to overcoming the fear of failure. When you have work ethic, you put in the work to build the confidence, to stimulate the positive thinking, to practice, to prepare, and to take action.
Those entrepreneurs who out-hustle, outperform, and out-think their competitors win.
Willingness to Prepare
Going back to our scenario from the beginning, you don’t want to stand before thousands of people unprepared. Attention is a valuable resource that many people are fighting and paying top dollar for.
When you have the attention of people, you have to honor the fact you have that opportunity, and don’t misuse it. Make the time they’ve given you their attention worthwhile by preparing!
Regardless of the scenario….Prepare, prepare, prepare!
When the questions come up, “Can I…?” or “What if…?”, positive thinking enables you to combat the negative spirals with confidence building statements. In response to an internal concern like “What if the audience gets upset?”, you could respond to yourself, “I’d tell them they’re missing out”.
Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich or The Bible are great resources for building the positive thinking muscle and giving you mantras you can repeat to yourself when you experience opposition.
How to Overcome Fear of Failure in 4 Steps
You can look at the opportunity differently. It will enable you to…
1. Reframe The Failure
You can see “failing” in one situation as a learning lesson or building block to future success. For example, every parent knows their baby will have to fall before they walk. When they fall, we all may feel some level of empathy, but we see it as being a part of the process.
Similarly, failing at any individual event in life can be seen as a part of the process. If you are new to anything, you have to go thru a process of mastery that includes trying, experimenting, studying, and trying again. Failing on route to mastery is almost a necessity, so don’t take it personally.
2. Brainstorm About the Obstacles
Sometimes, you’ll find that the fear will help you see potential roadblocks. For example, maybe you fear falling on the stage or losing your voice in public speaking, or the list can go on…
You can be mindful of the potential roadblocks and use them to prepare. In response to the examples with falling or losing your voice, you could prepare by having good shoes and cough drops. In this way, the fear could stimulate preparedness.
3. Leverage Knowledge and Past Experiences
I love a scripture in the Bible where David was about to go and fight Goliath (an archaeologically verified giant). Archaeology has proven that during that time there were giants measuring more than 10 feet and some as tall as 40 feet! David was described as a small shepherd boy.
When the remainder of the trained Israeli army stood in fear of Goliath, David took the challenge to fight him alone. He said:
“I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has challenged the army of the living God.” (Source: 1 Samuel 17:36–God’s Word Translation)
When the fear of failure presents itself, people who decide to press forward usually empower themselves by leveraging the knowledge or experience they have from the past. In David’s case, he had killed lions and bears, so he thought Goliath would be no different.
For you, you may say, “I’ve done cold calling and cold emailing before, performing a live presentation would be the same”. Whatever your experience is, you can leverage the knowledge and experience to build your confidence for a new milestone.
Similarly, if you’ve read a book or course, you can leverage someone else’s knowledge or experience to build your confidence.
3. Allow Failure to Build You Rather than Tear You Down
If each failure step towards the full trip, then whether you succeed in this moment or not, you’re one step closer to your goal. Every success takes practice. When you’re practicing, you don’t always look like a success, however, it’s a part of the process.
4. Speak Mantras To Yourself
You can choose whichever mantra you like: simple or more complex. You have to be able to rehearse and repeat the mantra whenever you catch yourself visualizing failure or having negative thoughts. Here are a few mantras I like:
- “This too shall pass”
- “Other people feel this way too and overcome, so can I.
- “This is only temporary.”
- “I am bigger than this fear.”
- “I can overcome this”.
- or, something along the same lines.
It helps to practice taking negative thought spirals captive, and correct them on the spot. You may find that closing your eyes, practicing breathing, or taking a break can also help to focus on the mantras and may give added relief.
Final Words on How To Overcome the Fear of Failure
The goal of this article was to show how to overcome the fear of failure. In entrepreneurship (or any new path), you are usually not good at the beginning: whether it’s being a wife, a student, a mom, or an entrepreneur. As long as you’re challenging yourself, you’ll experience fear–use it as leverage.
When you feel fear, use it as the “check engine light” to let you know you’re challenging yourself. It’s healthy. Keep going!If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesistate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out
Now, it’s Your Turn…
How do you deal with the fear of failure? Do you follow the tips written here? Is there anything I’ve left out? Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below.