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  • Avoiding the ‘F’ word – the fear of failure

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Socrates

Nobody likes the ‘f’ word. And we’re not talking about that old Anglo-Saxon epletive some people call swearing. No, this is much worse!

This is something that absolutely nobody likes or wants to be familiar with. It’s FAILURE.

No-one wants to fail. In fact we’re programmed to avoid it where possible – or at lest to avoid what getting out of our comfort zone might do to us.

The Fear of Failure

The fear of failure runs deep in all of us.

It lurks buried in our psyche, only to raise it’s head when we want to change something in our lives or business or try something new.

It seems virtually impossible to become an adult and escape picking up a fear of failure along the way.

The fear of failure scuppers invention and enterprise; stops us fulfilling our potential and living our best life – if we let it.

We try to avoid it where we can, either by staying safe, living small within our comfortable familiar world, or by procrastinating over any action that might incur failure.

But if we want to live an examined life – if we want to reflect on our progress towards the life or business we want – then open honest reflection with ourselves is the way to go.

Many resist such honesty – either from within or from others.  We don’t seek out the critique that might help us change or be more successful.

We carry on doing the same things we always do, and you know where that leads – nowhere.

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Narcotics Anonymous

We like the familiar – because our subconscious wants to keep us safe and that means sticking to what we know – even when it’s not serving us well.

And facing up to things not working might make us feel like failures and that we’ve wasted the time and effort we’ve already put into it that thing. It might be years – with a job or business, or a relationships.

We shy away from failure because of what the word means to us – the negative connotations.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

But what if instead of avoiding the ‘f’ word, we were to embrace it?  Make a virtue of it? Change the way we think of it and even the very word itself.

What if you were to look at things not going as well as you’d hoped as simply feedback rather than failure.

So every time you thought about potential failure you saw it as feedback.

What if you were to reclaim the ‘f’ word in a positive context.

No need then to avoid the ‘f’ word.

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” ~ Thomas Edison

You are like a scientist observing an experiment of honest reflection without a failure label.

If we change the way we look at failure to see it as feedback, we don’t need to be afraid of it.  In fact we can totally change our whole approach to life and how we do things.

Imagine if you weren’t afraid of failing – what would you do? 

The Changeability Podcast Episode 51

In episode 51 of The Changeability Podcast we chat about all this and more including:

  • What gets in the way of reflection
  • Where our fear of failure comes from
  • Why it’s good and bad
  • What makes us procrastinate
  • When we’ve been afraid of failing
  • Avoiding the ‘F’ word
  • How to reframe (even though Julian hates that word)
  • What a difference a word makes

Links mentioned in episode 51