Release The Fear Of Failure-
“What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
In January of 2017 I posted this question on Facebook to a group of about forty thousand people: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” (That question is now on one of our quote cuffs.) I asked the readers to write me a note describing what they’d attempt if failure was not a concern. Thinking to receive only a large handful of notes from people expressing their dreams, I was completely overwhelmed with the response of over one thousand letters, some of them up to ten pages long. Many letters spoke of having trouble being fearless in following passions, in following up on possibly long-held dreams.
People poured out their hearts expressing what they needed courage for, but because they were afraid of failing, the longings went unfulfilled. Some shared they had been told their dream was an impossible one. And some wrote that circumstances dictated what they could do, so they ended up not reaching for their dreams. I am writing this chapter while continuing to read responses.
There is quite a stack! With each letter I feel as if I am reading a book. The realization: We indeed are all the same. For sure there are differences, but on the most basic level the fear of failure plays a part in all our lives. Imagine what we could do if that fear weren’t around to torment us.
Fear of Failure
As I continue to read and make the effort to respond to each letter, I see how some people aren’t even able to put one foot in front of the other. Fear may paralyze and stop people in their tracks, which results in the failure they have been fearing all along. In each letter I see a small part of myself. As I respond to a letter, it’s as if I am responding to myself, encouraging my heart with the same advice I pen to someone far away. Here’s something that may make a difference: share your dreams with one or more trustworthy people. Share with friends who are comfortable to be with. Allow your imagination to work for you by picturing your desires. See your dreams with fear out of the way.
There is a commonality among all the letters. Reading and responding to them reaffirms two things I can identify with:
- “I have a passion to accomplish __________________. I really want to do it!”
- “I can’t seem to pick my feet up to take the first step because I am afraid I will fail.”
Do This –
Let me give a couple of practical suggestions: Try writing down three attainable goals for the year. Then write down three goals that are so big you think they are probably unattainable. Write down something that makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning and something that keeps you awake at night with excitement. It could range from something small, such as taking art lessons, all the way to starting the process of adopting a child. No goal is too small or too big if it’s something burning in your soul.
So many things seem impossible until you get on the other side, and then you realize that they were simply opportunities disguised as Impossibilities. Writing down these goals and talking about them may help materialize them—and how wonderful if it helps you release the fear of failure. Each month revisit the goals you wrote down to see how far you’ve come and what more you can do to achieve them.
Just one small step can be the key to keeping you moving forward, free of irrational fear. You can be an amazing mom, an outstanding wife, or a dedicated employee. You can be all of these things and yet still have God given dreams. He made you and gave you your talents and desires for a reason. Start with one goal, one dream, one thing that brings you joy, and watch yourself come alive again.
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
—C. S. Lewis
Jill Donovan, The Kindness Effect? (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2018), Used by permission. Find the book here
This guest post on the fear of failure was authored by Jill Donovan
Jill Donovan was born in Baltimore, Maryland; was raised in Pensacola, Florida; and graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she met her husband, Terry. She went on to get her law degree at the University of Tulsa and was a practicing attorney and adjunct law professor when Rustic Cuff was born. She taught herself how to make cuffs and gifted them to friends and family. Soon she was persuaded to sell her beautiful bracelets, and it turned into a booming business