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How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

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Did you know one of the most powerful ways we can push back the fear of failure is to read about and observe how others have overcome this game-stopping fear, glean the lessons they learned, and apply them to our life as appropriate?

Did you know?

Michael Jordan missed more than half of the shots he took. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter author’s story is legendary. She wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the first book of the series) as a struggling single welfare mom and had twelve rejections from publishers. Her first book eventually sold for the equivalent of $4,000.00. She says, “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure which often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing… Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began diverting all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”Today, based on her book sales and incredible film series she is now worth over $1 billion dollars.

• Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and lost every public election he entered until being elected Prime Minister of Great Britain at age 62. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm…Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Charlize Theron. When Theron was 15, she witnessed her mother shoot her alcoholic father in an act of self-defense. Instead of letting the trauma immobilize her ambition, Theron channeled her energy into making a name for herself. She would eventually become one of the most respected and talented actresses, becoming the first South African actress to win an Academy Award.

Stephenie Meyer. Before the Twilight series broke sales records, she faced the failure of rejection—multiple times. Meyer wrote fifteen letters to various literary agents and received fourteen rejections. Fortunately, one agent took her on and eight publishers bid on the rights to publish her wildly successful series which turned into a highly popular movie franchise.

Vera Wang’s path to becoming the successful designer she is today was by no means conventional. First, Wang, who was a competitive skater in her youth, failed to make the 1968 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. To the benefit of the fashion industry, this loss of a dream prompted her to take a job as an assistant at Vogue in 1971, where she was eventually promoted to senior fashion editor within a year—at age 23! After fifteen years with the magazine, Wang was passed over for the editor-in-chief position. But she ended up where she needed to be and has become one of the leading fashion designers of all time.

None of these people would have made history if they had chosen to be frozen by failure.

I do not know anyone who enjoys failing. For some people, the fear of failing can present such an overwhelming psychological menace that their incentive to avoid failure exceeds their motivation to succeed. This very personal and intimidating fear of failure causes them to unintentionally sabotage their chances of success in a broad variety of ways.

Here are some practical things you can begin doing today to face your fear of failure!

Stay focused on your “Why.”

To overcome the fear of failure, set your focus on the goal, dream, or outcome that you want to create. The more you focus on the end in mind, the less power you will give fear.

Recognize avoidance patterns, self-sabotaging, and push forward. Once you shift your mindset from being a victim to an overcomer who is in pursuit of your dreams, you are moving forward. When fear holds you, you tend to either avoid or waste time on the mundane things of life.

“Never, never, never quit!”

This famous line comes from Winston Churchill in the early days of World War II.

Churchill was the Prime Minister of England at the time. In those dark days, England was being bombed on a daily basis and civilians were dying throughout the island nation. It was in this context that the following short speech was made on BBC in October of 1941:
Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. ~Winston Churchill

One of the keys to winning at anything you do is to be persistent— to never quit.

“Where there is no vision, people perish.” Taken from Proverbs 29:18, this passage points to the truth that if we have no vision, no path, no idea where we want to go, we will never arrive. To push back fear you have to be crystal clear about what your goal or dream is.

Trust Your Dream!

If you believe that the Lord has given you a dream or desire to do something, just do it. If He gave you the dream, He will provide the tools to fulfill it. The secret? You have to open the toolbox and get to work.

Break Your Dreams into Bite-Sized Portions.

To succeed at anything from weight loss to increase your personal productivity, you have to figure out what your goal is and what steps you will have to take to make it happen.

Have a long-term view, realizing that there will be ups and downs. A can-do attitude helps us never give up on the dreams that God has placed in our hearts. Focus allows us to recharge, reinvest, and reinvent ourselves by melting down our fear.

Share Your Dreams and Your Fears.

In my work as a Crisis Response Specialist, I tell people that one of the keys to moving through a traumatic event is to remember that “Pain shared is pain divided; Joy shared is joy multiplied” (LTC David Grossman). When we do this with our trusted friends we will find the courage, faith, and support to push through the fear and go after our God-sized dream.

Patience, Faith, and Friends are Our Best Allies.

Choose to shift into a “growth mindset.” Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset, spent her life researching the origins of mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. Her findings give us two options—a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

A “fixed mindset” is one in which you believe you are born with a particular set of talents, abilities, and intelligence—all of which are unchangeable. Some people with a fixed mindset may find it harder to experience life change and growth. As a result, a fixed-mindset person fails to develop his abilities and is more likely to give up or become distracted and feel depressed when he fails to make the grade in his own eyes.

A person with a growth mindset begins in a different place. When you have a growth mindset you see yourself and others as more flexible, adaptable, and hopeful. Way down inside, you know the potential for growth and development. With the right motivation, effort, moral compass, and concentration you believe you can become better at almost anything. A person who has a growth mindset doesn’t take failure personally. That individual tends to see failure as an opportunity for growth. If one path doesn’t work, then the person will try another.

As a Christian therapist, I believe the Bible continually teaches the benefit of being growth-minded. I believe God is active in time, space, and history and that He has an active, life-fulfilling plan for each of us. The Bible gives us truth, hope, and stories of those who have gone before us and have found such purpose.
You can overcome the fear of failure by understanding those old triggers and turning them from energy-sapping vampires into life-motivating power that will help you accomplish your dreams.
May you experience His comfort, grace, and strength as your face your fear of failure.
Excerpt from John Thurman’s #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, The No Fear Entrepreneur.

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“The No Fear Entrepreneur is filled with inspirational stories, keen insights, and practical steps to help you identify the fears that are holding you back. I loved it and wish I would have read this before starting my business. I’d be so much further along!”

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 “In his book The No-Fear Entrepreneur, John Thurman gets to the root of that fear for entrepreneurs and fights it with research, logic, and inspiring stories of the people who have recognized the fear and finally, done something about it. If you’re stuck, this is the book to get you moving forward.”

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