“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Michael Jordan
I’ve heard some people claim that they have a fear of failure. When I ask someone what they mean, they typically reply, “I’m afraid I might not succeed.” And this keeps them from trying anything. (Certainly guarantees they won’t fail, doesn’t it?)
What’s really going on: People use “fear of failure” as an excuse for not taking the necessary risk to develop new skills to move themselves forward. They don’t understand that you can’t succeed until you fail first. A basic example: Remember back when you first learned to ride a bike? You “failed,” didn’t you? Fell down, got bruised, skinned your knee, maybe even cried a bit when your parents put on the iodine. Then you got up, dusted yourself off and eventually got that sucker rolling for a half block or so until you fell off again. Didn’t stop you from trying. And you didn’t use the excuse, “I’m afraid of failing,” did you?
So “I’ve got a fear of failure” is a line people use to avoid taking responsibility for their success. And that’s a pretty convenient cop-out: “Well, I’d like to get my business to the next level, but I have a fear of failure, so forgetaboutit.” Imagine Thomas Edison saying, “Gee, I’d like to find the right filament for the light bulb, but I’m afraid I won’t, so nevermind …” (Thank God he found it — we’d all be walking around with candles right now!)
The myth about successful people is that they never fail. The truth is they fail A LOT MORE than unsuccessful people, but don’t attach any meaning to it — just like you didn’t when you fell off your bike learning to ride. So the next time you hear someone say they have a fear of failure, ask them how they learned to ride a bike.