Never Let Failure Go To Your Head
We often hear people say, “never let success go to your head,” what they really should be saying is, “never let failure go to your head.” When task anxiety is more than realistic awareness but leads to inaction, business momentum stops. As entrepreneurs, energy is life, our relationship to failure, and the fear of failure is path defining.
Whether it's stalling in anxious analysis or plain old quitting, there's a clinical definition, atychiphobia. According to behavioral psychologists, it's when the motivation to avoid negative feelings is higher than the drive to persist through a task. The fear of failure is less about not succeeding itself than it is the anticipated experience of guilt, shame, and regret. Inaction itself carries real consequences.
Action is everything to the entrepreneur. We can both become more resilient ourselves and employ systems to address the fear of failure. Being prepared is everything, contrary to what most gurus will tell you, it's not a matter of if you're going to face failure, setbacks, and obstacles, it's a matter of when.
Show Up Grounded
When facing failure, the best resource is to be grounded in a routine of mental, physical, and emotional health. Your efforts to rely on systems, visualization, and other hacks will yield results corresponding to this foundation. For me, certain things need to happen, regular exercise, scheduling the time to be with my family, breathing this fresh Maui air.
After all, the reality is that uncertainty exists, and you will not be able to anticipate all of the obstacles that will come your way. Right now, we are going through a huge hurdle with the Coronavirus here in the United States and globally. There is panic. It will affect business, and no one saw it coming! The best system in the world won't help you in a state of panic.
When addressing the fear of failure in a business venture, the most effective techniques have to do with the resiliency you have as a human being.
- Adhere to a healthy routine in your nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
- Cultivate self-worth that is independent of a specific outcome.
- Reframe outsized estimates of guilt, shame, and remorse.
- Practice self-compassion toward past mistakes.
- Know that you can rely upon self-forgiveness in the future.
As an entrepreneur, we have to develop a thick skin for failure. We need to be able to experience it and move on. Move on to analyze it, understand what went wrong, and make adjustments so that we improve moving forward. It's absolutely a skill set that you develop, and I continue to work on it.
Feel Fear – Do It Anyway
Just recently, ahead of a very successful product launch, we had a rather downer of a team huddle. It was three weeks before the launch was going live. Mostly all we were talking about was all the ways we didn't think it was going to work. We were feeling the uncertainty about everything going on. How do we work through that?
Looking back now, I'm happy to say that we were able to pull everything together for what was one of our biggest product launches to date. So, those feelings didn't reflect reality. We didn't know what the outcome would be. But that discomfort, the fear of failure itself is just palpable.
One of the strategies I've found most useful for deconstructing fear is getting it on paper. When I find myself in a situation where I'm investing a lot of money and time in a particular venture and just experiencing some generalized fear of failure, or a constellation of specific fears, I write them down.
Get Your Fears Out Into the Open
There's something magic about transporting a fear from the mind, onto the page, that saps it of its power. And while I may be looking at what could go wrong, I also take stock of what could go well—this method I've found to be super effective in dealing with uncertainty.
Compose a “worst-case scenario” list. Address this first list and visualize your resilience. Compose a “best-case scenario list.” Visualize achievement, feel the accomplishment. Reconcile the two lists with a sense that reality, likely, lies between the two.
I'll review the fears list and visualize how I could meet the individual challenges and persevere. After all, I've developed a baseline of health, emotional stability, and happiness, knowing what's truly valuable to me and what's genuinely at risk. The next column gets everything that could go well. Dumping what's in my head onto the page gives me a good visual.
The reality of the outcome is typically somewhere in between the two columns. More importantly, though, I'm left feeling organized and capable of meeting any issue. We want to get our unknown fears out into the open. To get a more realistic picture and include all the rewards fear of failure blocks from our view.
Persistence In Action
The more you can level things out and continue to work through these feelings and emotions that you're having, the better off you'll be to keep moving forward in your business. While there are other great techniques, it comes down to being grounded and emotionally realistic with outsized fear.
The reality is that inaction comes with negative consequences for the entrepreneur. For us, persistence and perseverance are the engines of entrepreneurship.
The more persistent we can be, the more we can continue to take action regardless of the consequences, continuing to better our chances of success. President Calvin Coolidge encapsulated the vitality of persistence well.
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