Fear of Failure

1#. An Adult is trying to learn gymnastics and during the back flip practice which she was able to do so well last class – she falls down.

2#. An adult is trying to learn swimming and is having trouble blowing bubbles into water. So she does the bare minimum she can and then leaves the class and does not think about it until next class.

3#. A little baby is trying to walk and she falls umpteen times before she gets the hang of it.

What do you think is the difference between the above three examples or before we get there what’s the one thing that’s common across them? It’s really simple – they are all trying to learn something new.

Now, let’s explore the differences – primarily in mind chatter
1. Gymnastics: Oh, My god! I did this last week and now I suck at it. I can never get this done. Why did I even think that I could do this? I should just quit.
2. Swimming: I am the only adult in the pool. Look at all the other kids – they can swim better than me. My instructor probably thinks I am a fool for even trying. I just want the class to be over so that I can stop thinking about what a failure I am.
3. Baby: Blah! Blah! Blah! ..makes gurgling noises. Basically no mind chatter.

Imagine if the baby also thought like the 1#, 2#. I can never walk.I keep stumbling so many times. All I want is to just go to my toy and I cannot even do that.

Can you imagine any baby ever walking with that kind of mind chatter. Something happens as we grow up. Essentially there is no difference between the three example before – we are learning something new and we will fall, be scared of it but instead of trying to do more of it and be upbeat about it we just berate ourselves.

If we think about logically, if we are trying something new then the best thing to do is to do it as much as you can and fail fast and fail as often as we can.

But there is a fear of failure which is a strong mental model in our society. You cannot fail a class – what will others say? You cannot make a mistake at work – it will count against your performance. This subconsciously makes it way in our heads as we grow up and we imbibe this fear of failure and apply it to ourselves like a freebie.

What does this mean for us then? Well, to begin with do one thing a day that scares you. And once you know what scares you just go for it and do it as often as you can. And tell your mind chatter – it’s ok.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash

And Celebrate and be proud of yourself when the following happens.

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