Why failure is a good thing!
The fear of failure is a frightening force.
It paralyzes the best of leaders and has the ability to shutdown even the most groundbreaking ideas. There is no algorithm to remedy this fear when it hits, and many fall back on their animal instincts of fight or flight when this angst arises.
Even as I write this post I have the fear of failing. I want to say the right words in the best way. I want people's hearts and minds to be changed in such a way that they agree with me; or at least keep reading my other posts. I am afraid of failure, even when I have had no "significant" wins in my life, at least not by the world's standards.
I have not written any books, I haven't been on any TV shows (unless you count the 24 minute House Hunters episode my wife and I were on a couple years ago). A stranger would not recognize me in a coffee shop and I certainly do not have a household name; I probably never will. I want to say I am okay with that, but the feeling of failure is a crushing feeling. Somedays it takes my thoughts captive, threatening not to release them unless I give the fear my undivided attention. Often times, I feel stuck in my own head seeking an escape, a temporary relief, even. Ultimately, the fear finds my hiding place and continues tormenting me.
Failure isn't a necessary evil. In fact, it isn't evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new. We should not put so much merit in our fear of failure, because failure is a sign that we are trying something new, something innovative, something different.
In my church we are entering into a phase of big change and even bigger faith. Fear of failure is distinctly present. In the midst of one of our staff meeting today, my senior minister turned to the team and said in the midst of the unknown, "I am not afraid of falling on my face if this doesn't work, I am afraid of not trying." Our greatest rewards come on the tail of our greatest risks. We should never be afraid of failing; real fear should hinge on never trying in the first place.
If you want something different than you currently have, something has to change. Change is another weighted word that we often shy away from. But, like failure, change is not bad. It shows we are willing to step into temporary discomfort to advance to something greater. Change moves us closer to the future we are creating.
Left to their own device, most people don't want to fail. However, the reality of success is that it is a story that must be discovered, often through trial and error. The key to overcoming the fear of failure is recognizing its face and embracing it. If you're going to fail, fail early and move on from there. Nobody can plot out all their moves before they make them and expect to spare themselves failure down the line. Failure, at some level, is inevitable. Stop allowing it to hinder your creativity and leadership.
I fail as a mechanic. I own a 1987 Jeep Wrangler that recently has given me a variety of issues. When I started on this adventure of being a classic Wrangler owner I couldn't tell you the difference between a flex-head ratchet and hex-bolster screwdriver (I still probably couldn't). Regardless, I have learned more about my Jeep in the past three weeks of it not running than I have in the previous three years of owning it. I might continue to fail as a mechanic, but I get a little better every day. I learn a new component of a working engine, I bond with my neighbor as we simultaneously bang our heads on the lifted hood, or I get some needed exercise having to walk to work on the days my wife can't take me.
Failure comes in many shapes and colors, but it should never be a force that hinders our movement forward. There is always something to learn. There is always some way to improve. Don't fear failure. Seek it, embrace it, and learn from it.