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Common Mental Mistake #3: Afraid of Failure


“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continuously fearing you will make one” — Elbert Hubbard

The fear of failure is one of the strongest forces to overcome. The fear of failure (also called "atychiphobia") promises missed opportunities, enables shallow objectives and goals, and might even trigger thoughts like, “I could have done so much more.”

Consider the Little Engine That Could. Compared to the little blue engine, the other trains looked better, were built stronger, and had more capacity to go up the mountain, but they each chose not to help. They were probably thinking, “It is not worth trying if there is a possibility of failure.” Do you know anyone like that?

Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one's better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act. – Maxwell Maltz

But there was this one little train. He took a risk, set a goal, and cast caution to the wind.  He did not fear failure and just simply thought he could do it. [Spoiler Alert] He made it up and over the mountain!

Don’t Play the Game

The fear to fail is a psychological tug-of-war. Decide not to play. You cannot want to succeed and be afraid to fail at the same time. Take the risk. When in doubt, get a teammate or coach (I am available for hire) to motivate, encourage, and push you to be your best. 

Change Your Outlook

"We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery." - Samuel Smiles.

Failure is simply an opportunity to succeed. Learn from your mistakes. Most of us learn best when we fail the first time. Think, “I won’t be making that mistake again,” and use that failure as motivation.

1.     Steve Jobs was once fired from his own company.

2.     Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections, was a terrible businessman, and had a nervous breakdown.

3.     Henry Ford went broke 5 times before succeeding.

4.     Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

5.     Einstein did not speak until he was 4 and did not read until he was 7.

6.     Thomas Edison was fired from his first 2 jobs for not being productive enough.

7.     Winston Churchill failed 6th grade, and lost every election until he was voted in as Prime Minister at 62 years old.

8.     Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Later in his career he said:

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Get Feedback

It is profitable, helpful, and important to get feedback on how to take small steps to your desired goal. Ask for help. Don’t do it alone. Create a list of Action Items that will lead you to the goal. Get a Coach (life, sales, or executive) who can help you get where you only dream you can go.

“Failure is not an option.” - Gene Kranz NASA Flight Director who led the team who saved the three Apollo 13 Astronauts.