Fear of failure is commonly expressed as the strongest force preventing entrepreneurs from growing a truly successful business. Because of that common adage, all fears in business seem to get lumped in with the fear of failure. Although this sounds like a rational hypothesis, failing to challenge the assumptions related to the fear of failure may prevent one from achieving their potential.
There are many antidotes intended to help overcome one’s fear of failure. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Make a contingency plan. Put the worst-case scenario in perspective. Celebrate failure. Research the alternatives. Consider the cost of missed opportunities. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Most of these remedies, although well intended, don’t work. Anyone who had tried to adopt any nullifiers quickly becomes more ill-at-ease as their mind races through the worst-case scenarios – except now they have contingency plans. :-/
The problem with the antidotes is they seldom address the real fears. They merely treat the symptom – not the source – and the fear never subsides enough for one to take full action. It’s much like treating a headache caused by a brain tumor with aspirin (i.e. treat the symptom) rather than removal of the tumor (i.e. treat the source).
Many years ago, I led a very successful sales organization. While running this high-performance sales organization, I ran my health into the ground. The 15-hour/7-day-a-week work schedule took its toll. It took years for me to regain my energy and health.
For a time, I was hesitant about growing my business into what I knew it truly could become. I had bought into the ‘fear of failure’ platitude. I told myself the tentativeness was because I was afraid to fail and, therefore, I must apply the commonly recommended antidotes. It was frustrating as none of the so-called solutions alleviated my fear.
Much like the headache/aspirin/tumor scenario, I had misclassified my fear! I wasn’t afraid to fail after all! Fear of failure was merely a symptom. The source of my uneasiness – and my hesitancy - was the fear of getting sick. Once the real issue (i.e. source) was uncovered, I was able to identify solutions that gave me the confidence to know that I could grow my business and stay healthy.
What’s my point with this story? Well, not all things are as they seem. It’s important to identify the source of your fear and apply your solutions to the source – not the symptom – to get past your fears and grow a successful business.
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