Tip #63: Don’t be afraid to fail.
The why: The fear of failure, without even realising it, can creep into every aspect of our lives. It wraps itself around you and holds you back from the life you truly want.
From the life you deserve.
There are many fears in life; spiders, clusters of tiny holes, of falling down large staircases, of needles.
But none are so damaging as the fear of failure.
The fear of failure is omnipresent, it will stop you going for what you truly want. It will stop you chasing your dreams, it will stop you applying to jobs, it will stop you asking that lovely co-worker out for a drink.
It can even find its way into your subconscious and whisper “don’t do it”, preventing you from living without you ever knowing.
The vast majority will hold this fear in their hearts, but for those of us who have anxiety, it can be particularly harmful.
Well you know what. Not anymore.
Here are three things to remember next time your brain tells you not to go for something.
1. Everyone, yes, absolutely everyone, fails. There is no shame in it.
All those people you may look up to; famous inventors, politicians, academics, artists, musicians, parents, friends, wise old people, I can guarantee at some point in their life, they have failed. Miserably.
You know Thomas Edison, you know, the guy who invented the lightbulb? Do you know how many experiments he had to conduct before he got it right?
That’s right, he failed 1,000 times. The 1001st time gave us mass-produced electricity that rules our lives today.
And how about J.K Rowling, you know, the woman who has sold over 450 million copies? Do you know how many times Harry Potter was rejected by publishers?
That’s right, 12 publishers turned down the biggest book franchise of all time.
And how about Micheal Jordan, you know, arguably the best basketball player that ever lived? Do you know how many shots he has missed over his career?
That’s right, the greatest basketball player to ever live has missed 9,000 times, and was even cut from his high school basketball team.
And how about me, you know, the woman writing this awesome (please don’t disagree) anti-anxiety blog? Do you know how many internships I’ve applied for?
That’s right. 40 internships. And I have been rejected from, or not heard back from, literally all of them.
But you know the reason I’m going to eventually get one? You know the reason why Harry Potter was eventually published? Why Edison eventually mastered electric currents? Why Micheal Jordan is not worth billions?
Because no matter the humiliation, pain, rejection and doubt, they never ever stopped trying.
Yeah, there is no doubt about it folks, failure sucks. But you know what sucks more? Never finding out what could have been had you tried.
In the words of Wayne Gretzky:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
2. You have to fail to succeed.
This seems pretty counter-intuitive. Nonsense almost. But bear with me here.
Picture your younger self-learning to ride a bike, or to tie their shoe laces, or to speak.
How many times did you fall off before you could ride? How many frustrating hours did you spend with string tied around your hands? How many times did you garble and babble before you could string a sentence together?
Too many to count, unless you were a child genius.
The point is clear as day: In order to be good at something, you have to fail.
No one succeeds on their first time. Beginners luck exists it’s true, but for the most part, you’re going to be bad at it the first few tries.
What’s that old phrase? Ah, yes:
“If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
The people who have gone far in life, are the ones who allowed themselves to fail but didn’t give up.
The hard truth? Failure, making mistakes, sucking at something, is how you learn to be better.
You learn far more from making errors than you do from never putting a foot wrong, and those who have never put a foot wrong often don’t stray from the well-trodden path to do extraordinary things.
So long as you learn from your mistakes, analyse what you did wrong and find solutions, then failure is just another step in your journey to awesomeness!
It’s so easy to beat yourself up, to criticise, to lament, to regret, but that gets you nowhere.
Instead, next time you fail at something, think to yourself:
“Okay, that didn’t go so well. So, how can I improve?”
If you learn to see failure in a positive light, you will become the best version of yourself, and failing won’t seem so scary.
3. At the end of your life, your failures won’t matter.
People are far less likely to remember your failures than they are to celebrate your successes.
In fact, I can guarantee (unless you have horrible people in your life) at your funeral people won’t be saying:
“Gosh, weren’t they an awful person. Remember that time that they got rejected from that job? Or remember that time they burnt the entire meal? Or how about that time that they didn’t get onto that course they wanted? Oh, what about when they couldn’t get that poem about penguins published? Hilarious.”
They are 1000% more likely (and that’s science speaking (okay fine no it’s not)) to remember all the amazing things you achieved, the brilliant person you were, your best moments.
4. Your failures lead you onto the right path.
Sometimes a big loss can feel like the end of the world.
There are going to be moments in your life where you worked so hard, you gave it your all, you followed the rules, and it still didn’t work out.
You’ll be left wondering what the hell you did wrong. You think about all the plans you made, this big incredible future that you had envisioned. It seems like it was taken away from you.
There are many paths to take, many routes to that future you want. It can be yours. They’ll be knockbacks and setbacks, but if you have a vision of the life you want, you can get it.
It’s okay to feel sad or down about a failure, but don’t let it crush you, or your dreams.
Sometimes, in hindsight, you see that the things you didn’t get actually ended leading you on the right track. You learn to love the failures.
We don’t always get a choice in how things go for us, but we do get a choice in how we react to the situations we find ourselves in.
Don’t let failure stop you.
5. If you live your life in fear of failure, you may not live at all.
It’s cliche, but it’s true.
If you let a fear of failure hold you back from living your best life, you may find that when you’re old and grey, all the opportunities you didn’t take may haunt you.
I don’t mean to frighten you with talk of old age, haunting and regrets. But let others serve as a lesson.
In the top ten death bed regrets, the fourth most frequent was ‘staying inside my comfort zone’, the eighth, surprisingly enough, was ‘not making more mistakes’.
If you resolve yourself to not live your life being afraid to fail, and instead go through it afraid not to truly live, you will be extraordinary.
So go on, what are you still doing here?
Go out there, and live your best damn life.