The Fear of Failure – Welch Report

Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make is being afraid to make a mistake. What is the worst that can happen? In most cases it will be minor. Don’t be afraid to say “I screwed up”. “I was wrong”.

You might dent your ego and feel a bit embarrassed, but people will respect your candor and honesty and willingness to admit you are not infallible and that you can and do make mistakes. They will appreciate your willingness to accept responsibility. An unusual trait.

Who doesn’t make mistakes? What is the worst that can happen in most cases? Your idea did not work? Your added efforts did not pay off as you had hoped?

So what? You may have gained invaluable lessons along the way. Failure can be the best teacher of all.

Never be afraid to try, to stretch yourself, to suggest new ways of doing things or new ideas.

Too many people are so concerned with the possible consequences of making a mistake that they will let an opportunity pass by rather than take a risk.

They will stagnate rather than seek improvement. They will keep silent rather than speak up with an idea for improvement. If your ancestors were afraid of change, of challenge, of failure, we might still be starting fires by banging two rocks together.

Most of us anticipate failure instead of success.

We avoid trying because we fear humiliation or pain. We fear and worry about what others might think if we even try, never mind if we fail.

The fear of what others think is often a key factor in holding yourself back.

The sad truth is that most people don’t think about you or I anywhere near as much as we think they do. In fact, many do not think about us at all.

Most are far too busy worrying about themselves and what they want or don’t have. They have too many of their own goals, problems, and issues to worry about to spend much of any time thinking of you.

So I ask you, why do you care what most others think or what their opinions of you are?

The fear of failure, of others, of ridicule, only exists in your mind at this point. By fearing these things before you even try, you are creating the negativity you anticipate. You are laying a foundation of fear. You are building a reservoir of rationale to draw upon as you convince yourself not to try.

By allowing your actions to be controlled in any way by your fear of what others may think of you, you are directly allowing those people to control your actions.

You are giving them power over you. Never do this!

You are holding yourself back. Your career is being influenced by these people. Your life is being influenced by what you think these people will think of you.

It is this serious.

You may be prohibiting yourself from growing, from moving into the next level of personal capability.

Your fear of what others think can be one of the single, largest reasons why you never reach the level you are capable of. Think about this.

But think about the source of most of these fears. You. Your mind. In many cases, you are the problem.

Yes, in some cases people will scorn you publicly. They will question you and ask out loud who you think you are to think you can do a better job, suggest improvement, become management material or any one of 100 other things. They want to hold you back.

Don’t you dare let them.

Defy mediocrity by defying these people. True leaders, those who pursue excellence, those whose opinions you should care about, do not think this way.

Also, think about the fact that many of these people you are so worried about, whether you will admit it or not, are people that have achieved nothing or very little in their lives. Their accomplishments are mediocre at best.

Let me also give you a tip. Most will not want to see you get ahead. They will not appreciate your drive.

They will not support your efforts to improve. Most will be jealous. They will see you trying to better yourself and will feel worse about themselves as a result. It makes little sense but it is true.

Be careful of listening to these people. They will often tell you why you can’t do things and whether they are well meaning or self-serving, the result may be the same. They will feed your fears and provide you with more self-justifications for not trying or for giving up or settling.

Also, be very careful as to who you ask advice or input from. People often ask advice and seek approval from others but in all too many cases they are asking for advice and input from people who most often have never accomplished anything that qualifies them to offer this advice or input.

Would you ask a poor man how to get rich? Then why would you ask a co-worker, relative or neighbor about something they have never done and know nothing or little about?

Whether it is your fear of what others might think or your fear of failure, by thinking of all the possible negative outcomes, you are providing yourself an inexhaustible pool of reasons and excuses to draw upon to convince yourself how wise you are not to try, not to risk, not to take a chance.

You are feeding yourself the self-serving justifications you need to justify your inaction.

You are your own worst enemy. You have met the enemy within.

You are spending all your time establishing why you can’t or shouldn’t, instead of why you can, could, or should.

Why is this?

We have been conditioned to accept and even strive for mediocrity. To not extend ourselves. To follow and not lead. To risk avoidance. To conform. To be the same. To fear mistakes.

We have been conditioned to this level by many.

Some who are well meaning,some who want to hold us back.

Your fears can be defeated. They can be overcome.

Action defeats fear.

Preparedness defeats fear.

Faith in yourself defeats fear.

High self-esteem defeats fear.

A willingness to risk making a mistake defeats fear.

If you can’t embrace belief in yourself, in your ability, at least suspend disbelief. At least give yourself the chance to improve, to make a larger impact.

Don’t sabotage yourself simply because you can’t envision the things you fear working out right. Don’t hold yourself back by the fears that exist in your mind.

Being known as someone not afraid to make a decision and take action and who is big enough to admit making mistakes and will take action to correct them is a reputation you should be proud to have.

Without some risk of failure or error nothing will ever get accomplished. Playing it safe will not get you or your company anywhere. This is like running on a treadmill.

You go through a lot of motions but you never get anywhere.

Few results, large or small, can be achieved without some risk, some price being paid.

Fear holds most people back. Fear of failure. Fear of ridicule. Fear of risk. Fear of rejection. Most fears are only in your mind.

Stand up and stand out.

Fear is one shore that borders the sea of mediocrity. Defy it.

This edition of The Welch Report has been provided by Derrick Welch the author of ‘In Pursuit of Profits: How to at Least Double your Profits Without Increasing Your Sales’. Including 1,000 Cost Control, Expense Reduction, and Income Producing Strategies You Can Start Using Today To Dramatically Increase Your Bottom Line.

Strategy Choices and Long Term Plans

Ask ten business people what strategy is, and most will give the same answer: Strategy is a long-term plan. My undergraduate students give a similar reply on the first day of my strategic management class. Besides, many folks use the word to inflate the importance of their activities. One business executive bragged, “I am excited because after one year we finished working on our five-year strategic plan.” Though difficult, we did it. His strategic plan was an end-a goal. He presented it to his board of directors and then moved to another major project. That’s not understanding strategy and strategic management.

Strategy is About Choices

I learned strategy as a teenager in college when I learned to play chess. Soon I discovered chess is a strategy game. Each person starts with a goal to capture the other person’s king. Each must understand the value and role of individual chess pieces, particularly how each moves. The pawn advances one space, the knight in an inverted L-shape, the bishop diagonally to as many consecutively open spaces as available, while the queen goes in every direction to any sequentially available space.

You cannot play chess haphazardly; stay focused on your goal. Before each move, ponder how the other player might respond, and consider a likely counter. When the opponent moves unexpectedly, revisit your overall approach.

What’s the strategy in chess? It’s your choices to achieve your goal to beat your competition. That’s strategy in a nutshell–choices to get to your goals. And strategy is not static, but dynamic. Once you decide your overall approach (strategy) to capture your opponent’s king, if she plays an unanticipated move, review your strategy and adjust as needed. Never choose a game-plan to checkmate the king and follow it blindly, change as needed. Learn the opponent’s patterns (past) and use it (present) to develop your overall approach (future). Likewise, never do a “strategic plan” and file it. Update it to show current available choices to meet the mission of the business.

Strategy and Negative Choices

I learned three valuable lessons about strategy during my 32-years business career. First, strategy allows you to commit resources optimally. Second, whenever you commit resources to one area, you deny other areas those resources. This is crucial to keep in mind. Although obvious, sometimes we do not spend enough time looking at this negative choice.

The third noteworthy lesson is some choices will not turn out as expected and will be impossible to reverse in the short to medium term. When this happens, if you made a mistake, admit it, look at available choices early, and understand this is part of the strategic journey. You will not get every decision right. Strategy is not static, but dynamic.

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