I want to talk about the fear of failure. Actually that’s not true, I don’t really want to talk about it, but I think it’s important to acknowledge it’s existence in order to prevent it from being in the driver’s seat of our lives.
I’ve experienced a lot of failure in my life. I’ve got a couple of failed businesses in my trunk of memories, a failed marriage, some failed relationships and a stack of failed goals. At some point along the way, I forgot about the thing we teach our kids of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” because it became intwined with repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Failure can be painful. Repeating the same mistakes over and over again is painful. After a lot of pain, the normal human behaviour is to veer to safer options, which sometimes sheltering oneself from possibilities and potential.
The truth is that failure is a learning opportunity. When children learn to walk, it is by no means instantaneous; they fall hundreds of times before talking those very first, wobbly steps. At no point in time would a parent look at their child trying to stand for the first time and fail and then say, “Wow, you sucked at that, you’d better stop trying!”. For some, there is an experience of failure that shifts adventurousness to into deeper and deeper caution until they associate new potential experiences to old ones. The shift goes from “I have experienced failure” to “I am a failure” and then they stop trying.
What if we begin to look at failure as opportunity, or “Failuretunity” as a term coined in a group I coach with. When you begin to explore the lessons within each failure, you begin to grow from each of these experiences and expand into a stronger version of yourself rather than a contracted, fear-driven version.
Personally, the past year has been filled with fear of failure. Especially after fully committing to being self-employed, which I had done years before and totally bombed at. At some point, I realized that my fear was in charge and it was impacting the level of service I was providing and I had a choice to make. I could contract and shift back into my comfort zone that felt secure (and side note - that security is an illusion), or I could look at that fear and ask it was it was trying to teach me. I didn’t do this exploration on my own, I have 2 coaches I work with regularly to help guide me through these challenges so that I can continue to show up to my clients in full alignment. I can’t do it solo, most people can’t because it’s very difficult to be objective with yourself. I have so much appreciation for these teachers; they help me serve my clients in much deeper ways.
What fear taught me is that there is always space to grow. My knowledge had expanded, but my behaviours had not, my consciousness was expanding, but my mind was freaking out because I was venturing into unknown territory. When the mind sounds the alarm, a lot goes on ; old patterns show up, old stories, old voices, the ones that remind you of how terribly everything can go. So began my exploration into shifting those voices, the self-criticism, and slowly I began to transform the pain of those failures into lessons to propel me forward. I began to learn about my personal boundaries, how to protect them and meet fear before my boundaries got crossed. I learned to get curious about the fear, to talk to it and ask it what it wanted me to know. I learned discernment; some fears are real and alert you to dangers ahead, and some are smoke and mirrors designed to keep you in your place; the lesson of discernment was invaluable here.
Feel the fear and do it anyway has been a driver for me this year, stepping into discomfort and vulnerability, and it ultimately led me to stepping into my own power, my own ability to make decisions from my personal power and my heart-space rather than from mind/fear space.
Once I noticed that the fear of failure was just that, a fear, I was able to tell myself that just because I had failed once, or twice, or 10 times, it didn’t mean that I would fail again, as long as I learned and expanded my consciousness along the way.
If you’re struggling with stepping out of your comfort zone, looking for strategies, insight and clarity for what your next steps can be, contact me. I help you find clarity and consciousness, help you learn discernment in your choices.
Fail forward and often ;)