Overcoming Fear of Failure

55728466It is almost Halloween.  A time when we enjoy being scared by haunted houses, zombies, and just about every horror movie known to man being aired on television.  Why is it that once a year, we seem to embrace our fears?  Is it because at Halloween all of the fears are from things not in every day life?  Are the fantasies depicted in horror movies easier to face than the real fears that we encounter every day?

As leaders and entrepreneurs, we face our fears every day.  We wake up and decide that we will not necessarily take the easiest path, but the path that will offer the greatest good.  We will not let our fears guide our lives, but as Emerson said, we will “be led by our dreams.”  Do you remember the first time you took a risk and spoke up for the good of the team, or contributed an idea that you knew would be amazing, but went against the common thought?  You were facing your fears and stepping forward as a leader.

So many times, it seems that we look at successful leaders and think why can’t I be like them?  They have it all figured out, and must not be afraid of anything!  However, once you read or listen to their stories, you will notice a common thread.  They all had obstacles to over come.  Many of them failed magnificently before they succeeded.  To me, failure is absolutely terrifying.  But, the fear of failure deterring me from pursuing my dreams is far scarier than actually failing.  So, what can I do to overcome my fears as a leader?

  1. Be Prepared- While there are many things in life that you can’t prepare for, there are steps you can take as a leader to make sure that the people you lead are supported no matter what.  Make sure you are physically and mentally prepared to face struggles with grace and optimism.  You will be the beacon that leads your team through struggles.  If you face them with an open mind, confidence, and grace, you are setting an example for your team to do the same.
  2. Be Open to Learning- Sometimes when people are in leadership roles, they feel that they have to know everything.  No body can ever know everything.  Being open to learning new things and listening to the ideas of others will make you a stronger leader.  You will expand your own skill set, as well as the skill set and engagement of the people on your team
  3. Take Action- One of the hardest aspects of being a leader is knowing when to take action.  We can become paralyzed analyzing all the possibilities and information before us.  However, someone has to give the okay to take action.  If you struggle with this, make sure you surround yourself with individuals who excel in taking decisive action, and can help you weigh when the time is ripe.
  4. Trust Yourself-  Hind sight is 20/20, but if you look back over your life, you will most likely notice that your gut or your intuition was right.  If you have done your research and you firmly believe that you are taking the correct action, go with it. Face you fear, and trust that you have done everything humanly possible to make your team succeed.

As a friend of mine, Christine Sopa, says that “fear is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real.”  It is no more real than the zombies on The Walking Dead.  Take stock of your fears.  Are they guiding your leadership decisions?  Or are you leading from a place of confidence, inclusion, and innovation?

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