Note: this post was originally written as an Atomic Essay as part of Ship 30 for 30 and posted on Twitter. I’ve copied the essay content here so it isn’t just lost in the endlessness of the Twitter feed. Enjoy!
Everyone struggles with fear at some point in their life and fear of failure can be a particularly intense one.
I was paralyzed by this fear for many years. I didn’t participate in things I was interested in for fear I might make a fool of myself. I didn’t ask questions in class because I felt like I should already know the answer. I stayed in relationships way longer than I should because I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t make it work.
I didn’t realize at the time that all this fear kept me from fully participating in my life. I convinced myself that any failure would be a catastrophic event. Of course this is how fears work when we allow them to fester – they grow into something much bigger in our minds than they really are.
Here’s what I should have done instead:
Learn to see failure as feedback
Failure doesn’t mean you did something wrong, it’s simply feedback to tell you that whatever you tried didn’t have the intended result. It gives you the opportunity to try something new.
Like Thomas Edison said about his many unsuccessful attempts to create a light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Learning to detach myself from the outcome and not get all up in my feels about failing was an incredible accelerant for my personal growth.
I now frequently use 30-Day experiments to test things out. Some of my experiments create new habits that continue after the time is up and others don’t. I’m neutral about the results because it’s all just information to help me keep learning and growing.