I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. –Michael Jordan
Have you heard of Michael Jordan? He is an American former professional basketball player, often called the ‘greatest basketball player of all time.’ I find this quote of his extremely motivational every time I am tempted to give up on something dreading failure.
Failure is a familiar emotion isn’t it? Somewhere during our childhood this fear of failure is fed to us by our families, overtly protective parents and our societal norms. Gradually this becomes a part of our subconscious and we begin to fear things, emotions, taking risks, or to borrow from Mark Twain ‘losing sight of the harbour’. We feel safe in conventional things. The conformist path to success and happiness that is fed to us from the time we start school is the only path that seems worth taking for the fear of failure.
That said, most of our learning also takes place in our childhood because in those early years we are not fully under the grasp of the fear of failing. Take the case of a toddler graduating to walking from crawling. Can you imagine how many tries that would take? Do you think anyone of us would have learnt to walk if we gave up after a few failed attempts?
Ask yourself what is that one thing that you would do if you did not fear failing? Your own answer might surprise you. It will also bring you in touch with your dreams and desires that might have been sidelined while towing the line.
Fear is the feeling that keeps us away from following our passions.
If you now go back to Jordan’s quote you should find for yourself as to why you should not be afraid of failure or why failure should not be allowed to dampen your passion.
Failure is an important teacher. Someone once said, ‘there is no failure, only feedback.’ Every time you fail you learn something. The more feedback you get, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better the chance of an improved output next time around.
Failure is temporary. It is a condition. Failure looks permanent but it isn’t. It is defeating. It gives a harsh blow to your spirit. But the bad feelings and the blow last till the time your mind is not able to free itself from its hold. The moment you decide to observe your thoughts and steer them towards something constructive, you defeat that fear of yours.
Have you ever examined what constitutes failure? Have you ever thought why you failed? If not then I suggest you look at the cause or causes of your failure. There is much that you will glean out of pausing there and shifting your focus towards what might have led to failure.
The best way to deal with your fear of failure is to face it. Instead of sitting with your head in your hands and giving in to defeatist thoughts, take action. Plan your next move. You have done it once and now you will know what not to do, to succeed. You are automatically at a vantage point, having failed. It is only for you to shake it off and ready yourself for the next plunge