Be afraid. Be very afraid. Or don’t. Fear of failure has both benefits and detriments, and it can be overcome.
Having some fear of failure is ok! Really! But moving past it is what’s going to help you along in the world. Here are some ways to overcome your fear of failure:
You’re Not Alone
Whether it’s imposter syndrome, where you’re afraid you’re not worthy of the task you’ve been handed, or whether it’s the classic fear of failure, being afraid is totally human and normal. I bet if you asked a bunch of coworkers if they’ve ever been afraid of something in the workplace, they’d all have a story to share (tell us yours in the comments!).
There’s Strength in Numbers
Never be afraid to raise your hand if you need help. If you’re confused, ask for guidance. If you need to take a team approach to a problem, go ask that gal who knows all about the widgets and the guy who’s really good with the sprockets. You don’t work in a vacuum, so why starve yourself of oxygen? Having a few heads in the game can help everyone involved.
Fear Keeps Us Safe, but Also Makes Us Smarter
That time you burned your hand on a hot plate? I bet you never forgot to be a little fearful of fire. You also likely learned that you could put a towel on your hand and pick up that plate easily. Or you grew some callouses on your fingers and said “ha ha, hot plate, I’ve mastered you!” Use your fear to teach you lessons. Don’t run away from hot plates.
Don’t Get Stuck. Even When You Pause.
Halfway through a dark tunnel is a bad place for a panic attack. You still have half a dark tunnel to go, either way. Instead of throwing up your hands and running away, next time you’re a little scared, take a minute and step back from the situation.
“Even if it seems like you’ve taken a step backward, it’s only negative if you stop learning and trying,” Jocelyn Kerr at Tiny Buddha writes. “A calculated retreat gives you time to find out what didn’t work and how to fix it.”
Fear Can Be Good. Really!
We don’t think that someone is brave for walking down the sidewalk or petting a fluffy puppy. Bravery exists in the universe along with fear. It exists because of fear. You can be brave because there’s something out there that is scary.
“I used to think that people were courageous when they chose to do things I would be afraid to do.” writes Dr. F. Emelia Sam at Huffington Post. “I was wrong. They could only be courageous in doing things they were afraid to do. Bravery doesn’t exist in the absence of trepidation. I came to understand that fear doesn’t negate courage. It beckons it.”
Next time you’re feeling afraid, ask fear to dance.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
How have you dealt with fear at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.