Fear of Failure

Fear of failure can control your life, especially when triggered by perceived threats. These fear-based reactions must be overcome in order for you to create personal or professional excellence.

There is, for example, almost no real danger when rock climbing if you are climbing with qualified individuals in accordance with generally recognized safety standards. If you fall, your spotters and the equipment will keep you safe. Whether you feel embarrassed or inadequate, you have a choice. You can come down, continue climbing from where you fell, or try a different route.

On the other hand, for many people fear of falling creates a perception of danger that exceeds the possible good feelings they would get by successfully scaling a rock face. In such cases, otherwise capable persons give up before they start and do not give themselves a chance to experience this activity, much less excel at it.

Similarly, when a salesperson slips and falls, and fails to make a sale, there is rarely unrecoverable damage. Rejection and frustration are simply part of the process. A successful salesperson simply goes on to the next prospect, learning from the experience.

However, for many people fear of rejection creates a perception of danger that far exceeds the possible benefits of successfully making a sale. Just as with fear of falling when rock climbing, where otherwise capable persons give up before they start, they do not give themselves a chance to achieve excellence in sales.

In sales, rock climbing, or any endeavor where the perception of risk is grossly inflated, achievable objectives are not even attempted. “Playing it safe”  guarantees failure. Ships in a harbor are safe, but it is not why ships were built. Avoiding the risk of failure keeps us safe, but it is not why we were born.

The main reason people do not have what they want?

They are too busy trying to prevent getting what they do not want.

Part of the problem is that “fear of rejection” and “fear of falling” are rational feelings. Rejection is painful and falling could be deadly. There is a certain amount of wisdom involved in choosing behaviors that prevent you from trying things that could end up in failure or death.

However, the cost of playing it safe can be enormous when the danger is only perceived. When you do not make a sales presentation because you hate being turned down, it is fear of rejection that has guaranteed you will not earn a commission today. 

Thomas Edison did not create the light bulb by trying to prevent darkness, and you cannot create success by trying to prevent failure. You become successful by taking calculated risks, failing, learning from your mistakes and giving it another shot … not by playing it safe.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
Twenty-six 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


The answer is to develop the wisdom to identify perceived threats, and then to create the courage and determination to overcome your fears. While you will probably not succeed at everything you attempt, you will most certainly fail at everything you do not attempt.

Originally posted by LifeResults facilitator, James Roswell Quinn; http://lovebasedleader.blogspot.com/