Fear of failure:
“I’m worried about failing.”

"Swing" — Ernie Els by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

I failed my way to success.

~Thomas Edison

People often lack the courage to take initiative because they are debilitated by fear of failure. Yet, we need to face risks of “failure” or rejection to pursue friendships, romantic relationships, and work aspirations.

There’s a time to weigh the potential consequences of our actions before deciding to move forward. Then comes the time to move forward and do the best we can without being constricted by the choke-hold of trepidation.

Within reason, we shouldn’t be afraid to go out and try things and make mistakes, because we are going to make mistakes. We might as well expect mistakes and avoid being overly apprehensive about making them.

In Coach John Wooden’s second to last game, UCLA was down 2 point with a few seconds to go. After the game, a reporter asked him why he chose to set up a play for Richard Washington. He replied,

Because he’s not afraid to make a mistake. He thinks he’s a pretty good shooter—and he is—but if he misses he’ll think, “Well, you can’t make them all.” He won’t be devastated. Therefore, he’s harnessed his fears. The others might be thinking, “I’ve got to make it.” If that’s their thinking, they’ll be fearful about missing. I didn’t want that.

We’re all human. So rather than worrying about being perfect, we can embrace the opportunity to learn from our blunders and miscalculations. Accepting that we’re going to make mistakes can free us to move forward in a relaxed way and to fully live the journey rather than agonize about the destination.

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

~William Shakespeare

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Fear: ‘I hate feeling so much fear. How can I get rid of it?'”

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“I’m worried about failing.”

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