Fear of Failure? Are You Saying No To Who You Are Meant To Be?

fear, cliff

We all know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

Did you know he also invented the stock ticker, the electric vote recorder, the automatic telegraph, the electric safety miner’s lamp, fluorescent lights, the motion picture camera, and the phonograph?

While struggling with the light bulb, he replied, “I have not failed seven hundred times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those seven hundred ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” From the book, “The Power of Patience”, by M.J. Ryan

Do you have a fear of failure?

Do you cringe at the thought of making a mistake?

Do you expect the worst to happen rather than the best?

Fear of failure is a common reason people hesitate to say YES. For many, the attachment to doing something that leads to an expected or desired outcome often determines whether an experience is viewed as positive or negative. It’s only good if it goes the way you want.

I was doing a presentation a few years ago and one woman said, “Failure would be devastating. I know I would be so disappointed with myself for a long time.” To her, it was one of the worse things she could do. OUCH!

If you do something that does not lead to the outcome you desire or hope, how do you use that experience to help you positively? Do you see it as a learning opportunity or a reason to beat yourself up?

I have a good friend who is a health professional. Years ago we worked briefly together to expand his business. He talked about wanting to offer workshops, sponsoring speakers, perhaps creating some products… his eyes lit up with passion as he talked about his desire to reach more people beyond his local area. He’d been talking about expanding his business for quite some time and he was stalling. He joked about being a big procrastinator and wondering if he’d be able to break through his fears of failure.

Whenever he got close to pushing through his resistance, he’d back away by saying, “My business is doing well. Maybe I should be grateful for what I have”. He admitted that his parents often settled for the status quo because they feared the unknown and their fears made a powerful impact on his view of risk and expansion.

After a few months of working together, he quit. He was too afraid to push through his blocks and go the distance. In the next few years he sponsored a few workshops and now he focuses strictly on his practice. Is he happy and content? He seems to be. Or perhaps he has convinced himself to want less than his soul is asking of him to be? Who knows? This is his life journey.

Being successful in any area of your life includes a learning curve. That means making mistakes and experimenting with decisions and actions to create the life you are here to live. Accomplishments can be defined as the completion of an action. ANY action. I encourage you to be willing to recognize and appreciate your courage to both succeed and fail, which is all a success, really)!

Do you think Donald Trump was a huge success on his first attempt?

How about Oprah? If you look at where she started and who she has become, her rise to becoming a powerfull influence for women has soared over the years because she has had the guts to set a new standard for talk shows and the willingness to be a transparent model of authenticity to people worldwide.

How about you? Are you the same person you were five years ago? If you’ve been growing yourself and your business, the answer would be no. Even if you haven’t put a lot of time and energy into personal growth, it is impossible to remain the same indefinitely. We are either moving forwards or we are moving backwards.

We use past experiences as a barometer to measure future experiences and projected outcomes. We can hesitate to say YES because we believe, “If this happened in the past, I fear the same experience will repeat in my future”. We can use past experiences as excuses to take risks and take quantum leaps. To expect the past to repeat itself exactly is impossible because we aren’t the same people today that we were then. The potential for themes and patterns to recur is probable if you haven’t done the inner work to clear limiting beliefs, resolve past pain, and self-sabotage.

In fact, we can manufacture any reason to avoid doing anything we don’t want to do. The more evidence we collect to prove our reasoning, the better positioned we are to make our case to ourselves and to others. And we can become brilliant in our defense to avoid stepping out of our comfort zones or retreating back when the going gets tough. Enlisting others to support our case makes things a whole lot easier to avoid.

Common beliefs regarding failure:

  • I have to get it right (perfect)
  • I don’t have what it takes
  • If I say no, people won’t like me
  • I have nothing valuable to offer
  • If I’m really “me” people won’t like or love me
  • Things don’t usually turn out well for me (self-fulfilling prophecy?)
  • It’s too hard
  • Success happens for other people not me
  • I’m not good enough, smart enough, lovable enough..
  • I’m not ready
  • I won’t be able to handle….
  • I’ll lose…. (fill in the blanks)  and that would be devastating  (Is that really true?)
  • Maybe what I have is enough and I should be happy with the way things are and not want more

Which ones do you relate to?

Self-fulfilling prophecies give us even more ammunition to prove why something doesn’t work out well. Wikipedia’s definition of self-fulfilling prophecy is “a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to be true”. If we are resistant, expecting something to go poorly or fear it might go well (fear of success), you can bet we’ll find ways to sabotage ourselves so we can prove we’re right. That gives us permission to come back and say, “I told you so!” to ourselves and others because we didn’t really say YES!

It is through the trial and error experiences that we develop our unique formula for happiness and success.

When I was an addictions counselor we talked about trusting the process and the journey of moving from one place to the next. The challenge? Having the patience and tolerance to go the distance without getting discouraged or scared. “I want it to happen NOWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!

There is a difference between failing at an effort and taking on the identity of a failure.

There is a difference between making a mistake, and identifying with result

Do-ing something and Be-ing something are two vastly different truths!

Yes, you will minimize the chances of too many costly mistakes in your life by doing your homework, making informed decisions, and creating solid strategies to implement. Remember, that even with the best plan that includes anticipating possible outcomes; life will still bring you the unexpected. When you include failures and mistakes as part of your strategy to success and outlook on life you will rebound more quickly to each situation as it arises so that you continue to move toward your destination.

Getting things you may not want will help you get that much clearer about what you do want. In that way, your commitment to your dreams and goals become more compelling.

We are human beings! We react, respond, screw up, and do things brilliantly.

My philosophy?

  • Every situation offers a growth and healing opportunity. Look for the gifts and blessings in each experience that challenges you and invites you to be more than you are, especially when it is undesired.
  • Approach life with more self-love and compassion for those times you judge yourself to be less than your best.
  • Aspire to see yourself and others through the eyes of love (if you aren’t already there!). And when you have those moments when you slip into your humanity rather than your Divinity, forgive yourself and use the experience as an opportunity to heal and grow.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously. Remember to laugh and have fun.
  • You are a powerfull Creator. At every moment you make choices that will either bring your joy or misery depending on your attitude. What will you create today?
  • Experiment with new things and learn all you can from each experience regardless of the outcome.

Fear of success and fear of failure are two sides of the same experience.  By definition, success and failure is can be seen from multiple viewpoints. Both results offer opportunities for self-discovery and change.  It is through the process of succeeding and failing that we come to know more about who we are and what we want. We learn about our unique talents, skills, and gifts through the opportunities we create that invite us to shine. And we learn how to develop the courage to be the Light we are meant to be in the world.

“When we come to the edge of all the light we have
And must take a step into the darkness of the unknown
We must believe one of two things
Either we will find something firm to stand on
Or, we will be taught to fly.” –
Patrick Overton Copyright © 1975 The Leaning Tree

We learn to cultivate strength, courage, and faith that give us wings when we are meant to fly! To live fully, you must fully participate – succeeding and failing for the joy of the experience. Life’s a journey! Enjoy the ride 😀

 Ready to create your  greatest life?

Join me for a four-week mini journey into Courage and POWER beginning Wednesday, June 11. Learn how to make fear your friend, unleash your inner hero, and partner with the Divine POWER within you to liberate you from the grip of your mind AND start thriving in ways you never have before. Early tuition ends Thursday, June 5, midnight EST.

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  • I love the fact that I have embraced the failures of my life. It is in knowing that one must fail in order to succeed we can free ourselves from the bondage of unrealistic expectations.

    Truly, those who are most successful in any area have likely failed more than others.

    Failure is simply information of what works and what doesn’t.

    Great article Lorraine.

    Your friend and buddy who is willing to “not get it right” each and every time.

    Sure takes the pressure off of trying to be perfect.

    Kathleen Gage

  • lorraine says:

    Bravo to you Kathleen

    That’s a great attitude to look at your failures as teachers that help you to succeed whether it is in your business or in becoming the person you are meant to be.

  • Wonderful article,Lorraine. As one who’s been on a spiritual path for decades I know that we spiral up (or down) through our fear-based issues in order to evolve into who we came here to be. Your integrity around this shines through your writing. Thanks!

  • lorraine says:

    Hey Jan, Thank you for adding your thoughts!

    It’s always great to meet another fellow traveller on the path who has “been there and done” that to be a beacon for others who are finding their way, as we continue to do 😀

  • I am raising money for my recycle bin and i needed this. thank you so much

  • lorraine says:

    My pleasure to be of service to you!

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