What is it we fear most about failing?
In some things, like trying to jump over a hole in the ground, the fear of failure is based on very real physical consequences that will harm us.
I guess it varies from task to task, depending on what we’re trying to succeed in.
Is it about how we judge our own success?
Are we afraid of failure because it will bring the judgement of others?
That’s a lot of questions…
Success can be measured by degrees in most things: most things are not simply a yes / no answer to ‘did we succeed?’
How we judge ourselves to have succeeded seems to be the key. We set our own bar, we put pressure on ourselves to reach a certain goal and anything less than that is a failure.
That can be incredibly motivating, but it also creates an anxiety about failure.
If we set our goal as being something that will be judged by others as a success, then we have the added pressure of judgement from these others if we fail.
As we gain more experience in doing things, and trying new things, we get used to failure as a learning experience. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Sometimes though the failure stifles us, makes us feel weighed down by the judgement of others to the point where we don’t want to try again.
Is being afraid of failure inevitable?
Only if we measure success in the judgement of others.
If we produce something with the intention of engaging others with it, and we put it out there and other people just don’t get it, we feel that sense of failure. We can forget that the lack of success may be for reasons outside our control. We forget that there is an element of luck in all projects. We take it on ourselves – we have failed.
We forget the glorious effort of having tried.
And is it a failure, this thing we have created? No! It’s been created by us, we made something out of our thoughts and actions, this thing came from nothing, we brought it in to existence! That is a success in itself.
Judging it by the measure of how popular it is with others is just one way to measure its success.
It saddens me a lot when I see people I know have so much to offer, stopped from trying to create something by their fear of failure.
I know I can’t convince these people that it’s the act of creation that’s the triumph, that it’s their energy being channelled in to the creative process that is the success… but I wish I could…
Of course there are other measure to success, and with the right focus of energy and the right amount of good luck, I hope we all experience it. But if we don’t, let’s not forget what we have achieved.