How to Finally Get Over Your Fear of Failure

by Kristen Burgess
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Many people study, study, study, and study and maybe blindly try something once or twice, but they never stop to see if it’s a success or failure. Then they go back to studying. They’ll go from 2 to 5 years studying, but never adding any practical business experience.

When you begin genuinely adding functional business experience you’re finally saying: “I’m going to take action… I’m going to lay the instruction manual aside… I’m going to lay the rules aside if necessary… I’m simply going to start doing… I don’t care if I fail… I don’t care if I succeed.” That’s what I did when I first got started. I was able to lay aside the concept of success and failure. I didn’t care if I failed, and I didn’t care if I succeeded. I only cared that I did something so that I could evaluate success or failure.

Do you remember when you were in high school and preparing for those yearly achievement exams? Or when you were preparing for college and those entry exams? Prior to the college entrance exam you picked up three practice tests and you said, “I’m going to take these tests.” And in some sense, you really didn’t care what your score was, I mean in some sense if you got a 95% on your review test you probably figured that you don’t have to study. Your goal was to figure out how the test worked.

You really didn’t care if you failed the practice exam or not; what you really cared about is that when you finished, you could look at what problems you missed and why. So maybe there were ten categories of problems and one of those categories were word problems. You found that you did all of the other problems really well but you failed all the word problems. What does that tell you? That tells you that you failed at the word problems. It’s no big deal because it was a review. It was a practice test. What does that tell you? It tells you that you need to practice word problems.

Let’s say your business has 10 parts to it. You may really feel like you are failing in your business but when you look at all ten parts, eight of them are operating just fine. But your business doesn’t succeed past the weakest link. All you have to do is to find out where you are failing and fix those particular parts. I’m going a little out of scope from our discussion, but what I’m wanting to do is give you an emotional experience so you really understand this, “It’s okay to fail” thing.

Sometimes people look at me and they say, “Well you’re successful and so you can say that it’s okay to fail because you have a successful business to fall back on.” I can only give you my word to say that when I didn’t have a successful business to fall back on, there was something inside of me that told me that it’s okay that I fail again, and again, and again, and again, and again because for me, it was worth the chance that I might succeed. And I risk a lot again, and again, and again, and again and I have many failures. And some of the things that looked like success I wasn’t happy with, so I failed on them or I quit after a year. Then other things that I’ve tried in an entrepreneurial fashion I failed again, and again, and again, and again.

All that failure did to me was harden me and strengthen me and say, “I will not let this entrepreneurial beast win.” The failure doesn’t matter because the failure did not kill me, I’m right here ready to fight another day. That’s just a little bit of a look into my own temperament. The one that allows me to push through.

I believe that the one thing that holds many people back who simply want to be successful entrepreneurs is their failures. I see that a lot when I’m talking with folks. You ask the question, “Well, what’s holding you back?” The response, “I’m afraid, I’m afraid that I’ll fail.” What’s the worse thing that can happen if you fail? “I’ve lost 6 months of my life… ” Well, what about the last 6 months of your life? Did you succeed? Well, no but failing isn’t going to hurt any more in the next 6 months than it did this last 6 months. It’s okay to fail. So now once we have this experience and fear and failure, experience and failure are going to be the bucket from which we are able to look into with our binoculars and say, “How can I make better decisions into the future?”

That’s where you want to get to – realize that it’s OK to fail. You can learn from failure, just like you did on that practice test in high school. You studied the parts of the test you were weak in, and you improved. You never could have improved if you hadn’t taken the test. In your business you’re going to have some failures. Nobody can ever be perfect right from the start. Remember that failure teaches you something. Don’t spend anymore time reading, reading, and reading again. Go try. Implement. Then come back and evaluate. You’ll know what to learn. Get out there and do – that’s how you become a success.

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