The Fear Of Failure Is The Fear Of Success
For as long as I can remember, I had always been gripped by a horrible fear. I am sure you can relate. The questions that race through your mind when you are confronting a new situation. What if it’s the wrong thing or what if it's the right thing and I can’t handle it. Fighting this overpowering fear is something I battle with all the time.
It is my observation that when we are doing a self-analysis, we tend to be our harshest critics. We tend to project our worst fears and magnify them many times over. Something that should be a mere concern ends up being a major obstacle, and all because of fear.
Often-times we tend to fear success more than we fear failure. I am not sure why this is, but it probably has to do with our reluctance to invest in a future that is not guaranteed. Accepting failure on the other hand is simpler compared to fear of future success because we have already resigned ourselves to the conclusion that we have already failed.
The Nature Of The Beast
I cannot think of another word to describe fear rather than a beast. It looms over our lives and influences all our decisions. To the individual experiencing the fear, the beast is very real even though vastly exaggerated by them.
Fear, if you let it, will have you immobilised and affixed to the same spot, incapable of action like a deer caught in the glare of an oncoming vehicle's lights at night. Fear even manifests itself in our physical responses. The heart rate is amplified, we sweat a little more profusely and when it grips us deeply; within a short moment, logic rushes out the window.
When we lose our wits because we are gripped by fear, it only changes the situation and not for the better. No one can reason aptly when in the strong grip of fear.
Upon close inspection however, and if you take a pause, fear is not the large beast it masquerades to be. Remember that the basis of fear is in the mind, and if you are to tackle fear, it is the mind you have to discipline.
Fear Steals Our Success
Every human being is blessed with an active imagination and most things imagined can be turned to reality. I am sure you have thought up something remarkable you could achieve. It might have been marvellous but I am willing to bet that the reason why you have not gone out and claim the thing you imagined is fear.
Fear is a funny thing because like I mentioned, we fear both failure and success. When it comes to failure, we start asking what if I fail? And With success, we fear thinking; what if I’m not cut out for this success? Either way, you have to agree that despite the different manifestations of these two types of fear, they are essentially the fear of the same thing- the fear of the unknown.
When it comes to our imagined futures and we are in the midst of a deep fear, we tend to forget that anything is possible. Drunk on fear we tend to focus on all the things that could go wrong instead of concentrating on the possibilities that could go right.
When in the grip of a deep fear, you can't move forward and nor can you think straight. I would contend that our strongest asset is the mind and if you lose yours in deep fear, you involve yourself in a self-fulfilling prophecy in which your fear steals your success.
Tackling The Beast
I like to think that fear masquerading as a beast is in fact a caricature of our mind’s making. Tackling “the beast” therefore is as simple as recognizing this fact. Notice I say simple but not easy.
The mechanisms of fear and how to tackle it are simple enough but not easy in practice. This is the case primarily because we have developed our fear patterns over time. The way we deal with fear is determined to a large extent by our past experiences and how we grew up.
Obviously it is not possible to get rid of the fear response because it is an inseparable part of our biological heritage. What we can do however is to unlearn our old fear responses and adopt new ones that will improve our odds at success.
If you observe yourself, you will see that you essentially deal with fear the same way. Some people, and at different times, run and others at times charge forward but it can be one or the other, depending on the intensity of the situation and your outlook towards life. What you need to do is to condition your mind to confront fear.
Once you confront fear, instead of running from it, you give yourself the opportunity to realise that as looming as it seems, fear is not made up of anything of substance and you start to deal with it with the clear mind of a logical thinker.
To Fear Failure Is To Fear Success
I did mention that the fear of failure and the fear of success are just a manifestation of the fear of the unknown. The fear of failure is dangerous because it prevents people from starting whilst the fear of success often prevents them from seeing things through. Either way, fear should be drastically reduced if we are to see success.
Many people have great ideas but do not bring them out to the world because they are afraid that they will fail or even that they can’t handle the success. One of the reasons why this fear is so prominent in society is due to our cultural dispositions. From the home to the education system, failure is seen as a negative thing and naturally attempts at achieving the seemingly impossible are discouraged and rare.
However, the spirit to try in the face of possible failure should be encouraged and celebrated instead of being seen as a moment of shame. People often say we should celebrate failure. I do not like the framing of this statement. I say, we should value, celebrate and praise the spirit to try without the consequences of punishment or ridicule regardless of whether the end-result is success or failure.
I believe now more than ever that success does not and should not come easy. In order to find that elusive success, many trials and errors are necessary. That being the case, it means that everyone should be encouraged to try their luck on the fortunes of fate to find their success. No one can do this without understanding that the fear of failure is the fear of success.