Have you ever had a great idea, or thought about trying a new sport or hobby, but then talked yourself out of going for it because you were scared that you’d fail at it?
I think we’ve all been there at some point.
The fear of getting things wrong, making mistakes and failing can stop us in our tracks. Quite often before we’ve even started. But the thing is, we’ll never do anything or achieve anything if we’re so scared of failing that we don’t even try.
Here are some tips on how we can all let go of that fear of failure and stop worrying so much about making mistakes.
Change how you view mistakes and failures
We all seem to think of failing as something really bad. For some reason we seem to believe that we always have to get everything right.
I’m not sure when this happens though, because if you look at babies and toddlers you can see that fear of failure and getting things wrong isn’t something we’re born with.
Toddlers learning to walk don’t have this fear. They fall time and again, but each time they get back up and try again until they can do it.
We need to get back that mindset that in order to grow we need to allow ourselves to fall, to fail, to make mistakes.
Make mistakes on purpose
One way to change our way of thinking about mistakes is to make a few on purpose and see that it’s really not as bad as we think it is.
Now I’m not saying you should go and mess up a deal at work on purpose that would lose the company a fortune. I’m saying look for something small and safe that you could fail at or do badly. If you work in an office then maybe you could skip that optional meeting that’s just not important to your role.
Find something small, mess it up and see if the consequences are really as bad as you think they’ll be. Chances are the impact of you failing will be less than you think it’ll be, which will then make you a bit less scared of making mistakes in the future.
Look at other people’s failures
If you’re still feeling scared then try looking into other people’s failures.
Some of the world’s greatest inventions came about either because someone made a mistake, or because someone failed again and again until they got it right. From penicillin and post-its to the light bulb and artificial sweetener, all sorts of things have been discovered and invented by mistake or after repeated failures.
Athletes and sports stars are also great to look at to realise that success so often comes after multiple failures.
Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 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”.
Let other people make mistakes
It gets a lot easier for us to make mistakes, and fail at times, when we create an environment where these things happening is OK.
A while ago I wrote a post about the things I’d like my children to say ‘yes’ to, and failure is one of the things on that list. I think it’s important to let our children know that it’s OK if they try things and get it wrong. Or if they take a risk that doesn’t quite pay off.
We should let our children know that they won’t get in trouble if they make a mistake or if they try and fail at something.
I think for most of us the idea of making a mistake or failing at something will always be a little bit scary.
For some people it can be so scary it stops them from ever trying anything new. It could be that you have mental health issues to work through in order to let go of your fear, in which case talking with a counsellor at thrivetalk.com could help.
As a general rule though, we can take steps to move past this fear ourselves. The more we try things and push ourselves and allow ourselves to get things wrong, the more we’ll realise that it’s nowhere near as bad as we think it will be. And the best way to learn and improve at anything is to fail along the way.