Fear of Failure

Dream big. Something we are told from the very beginning. If dreaming big was something instilled from childhood, why don’t more people follow through? Is it because we “grow up” and have to get a “real” job, or something much worse in being afraid to fail. If it’s the former, shame on whoever let you give up on your dreams. if it’s the latter, intrinsically, something has to seriously change. There is no greater injustice than giving up on aspirations because you are afraid of failure. Of course, this is something easier said than done and a task not for the weak-willed. This is because failure hurts and as humans we self-regulate our emotions in order to feel better. As such, many avoid failure by giving up on their dreams. What people don’t seem to understand is that failure is natural. Funny enough, the frequency of failure has been openly discussed in damn near every biography that I have read. For instance, Bruce Springsteen (one of my personal favorites) admitted to early failure and opened up about mental illness. It was hard to believe that The Boss was ever unsuccessful. What set him apart from most was the failure did not keep him down. He knew that he had to work harder to master his skill and it certainly paid off. It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, but the point stands that practice is key. Springsteen knew this, and was successful for mastering his art. Similarly, Lennon and McCartney’s success as songwriters and performers in the Beatles can be attributed to practice. Before the Beatles were known, Lennon and McCartney actually played together on over 1,000 performances. That’s more than 2,000 hours of performing music together, not including the time it took them to prepare. When they were recognized, they were already a well-oiled machine, which was accomplished from practice. The same holds true for Mozart who lost his position as a court musician, which only spurred him to create masterpieces. This list is endless and certainly not specific to musicians. Many successful people have experienced great failure early on including Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, and even Abraham Lincoln. They all experienced failure, but fought for their respective goals and ultimately ascended to the top.

So what’s holding you back from taking the leap of faith and following your dreams? If you wanted to be a professional athlete, why didn’t you continue and train every day? If you wanted to be an actor, why didn’t you read, learn, audition and perform as much as you could? If you wanted to be a clinical psychologist, why didn’t you go to continue your education and get your doctorate. It takes courage, patience, practice and hard work to face failure and reinterpret it as a motivation to success. Regardless of what your dream was, it is never too late to invest in yourself and pursue that dream. If you can’t believe in yourself, what can you believe in?