By definition, failure is a lack of success; however, it is often our approach to failure that truly makes us unsuccessful. Frequently, very capable individuals are inhibited from reaching their full potential because of a fear of being perceived as unsuccessful. We must condition ourselves to see the benefits (yes benefits) of failure: increased motivation, self-awareness, and the opportunity to learn and grow. AMEND recognizes “failure” as a detour, not a dead end street.
When it comes to failure, ego is often our own worst enemy. As soon as something goes wrong, our sense of self-preservation kicks in and drives us toward any action necessary to save face. These common defense mechanisms undermine our ability to adapt:
Simply admitting that we’ve made a mistake can be the most difficult step. It requires you to challenge your own self-perception of excellence, a tough pill to swallow for most.
2. Chasing losses
Any perceived “loss” (whether tangible or intangible) generates anxiety within us; sometimes we become so obsessed with overcorrecting our own missteps that we can end up causing more damage. Think of a poker player who has just lost significant money. He is often more prone to riskier betting habits in a hasty attempt to win back the lost money and come out ahead.
In an effort to downgrade the severity of our mistakes, we will often try to disguise them, bundle our losses with gains, or find some way to reposition our failures as successes.
“Few of our own failures are fatal,” writes renowned economist and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford. While this sentiment proves true in practice, we certainly don’t embrace it. We become so concerned and upset with failure that the primary benefit escapes us: the chance to return with a stronger, smarter approach.
So, what do you do if you’re afraid of failure? How can you overcome hesitation? What can you do to focus on achieving new heights rather than simply avoiding the lows?
Well-known author and consultant Nicholas Boothman claims that there is no failure, only feedback. With the right attitude, you become stronger from temporary setbacks, not weaker. If your desired outcome was not achieved, do not be discouraged; get motivated to change your approach! This can be practiced and represented by Boothman’s simple acronym: KFC (from the book Convince them in 90 Seconds):
K – Know What You Want:
Focus on defining your goal and understanding why you want it.
F – Find Out what You’re Getting:
Always solicit feedback and truly hear what’s being communicated; focus on what brings you closer to your goal, and eliminate what distracts you from your goal.
C – Change What You Do Until You Get What You Want
Try different approaches – even take radical measures, if need be – until your goal is achieved.
At AMEND, this kind of mindset drives us to success. It is crucial to seek feedback and learn from mistakes. We have the knowledge, experience, leadership, and tools to dissolve “fear of failure” and transform your business into a learning organization.