Leigh DowThursday,8 August 2013

The Snap:

Once upon a time I was in a team building exercise and we were asked to go around the room and use one word to describe each other. When the spotlight came to me, team members said I was “fearless.” And I was like, “What the what? Me? No.

The Download:

The thing is, I’m not fearless, not even close. Yet over the years, people have used this word over and over again to describe me. Actually, I’m just terrified at the idea of being stone cold average. It’s actually not something I ever really sat down and thought through but at some point in my life I just stopped being afraid to try and fail.

I can spot the fear mongers though. They are the people who seem dazzled by things you probably think are small wins. People who are afraid to fail seem baffled by the decisions I make, even as they congratulate me for them when they work out. Here’s the deal, as Neale Walsh said “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” So many people are afraid to fail there is a phobia, atychiphobia, defined as the persistent fear of failure. It leads to a constricted lifestyle, effecting a person’s willingness to attempt certain activities. A person afflicted with atychiphobia considers the possibility of failure so intense that they choose not to take the risk. To that I say, boo — boring.

I’ve seen two graphics floating around Facebook and Twitter over the last month, both aim to tell you it’s ok to try and fail because ultimately you will succeed:

Our society is grossly obsessed with displaying perfection, which ultimately make people less risk oriented. I read somewhere (sorry to the author, I don’t remember where) that the thought process is “if I’m not sure if I can succeed, then I can at least keep my dignity.” I challenge that thought process, there is no dignity in fear of failure.

I’ve always been a little rebellious, a little weary of the status quo. But I have fears too, just not of failure. I try very hard not to let fear creep in and make my decisions for me, or to let other people put their fears on me. I know I won’t be my authentic self if I let a fear of failure allow me to settle for mediocrity to avoid the risk that comes with trying to distinguish myself or create something unique. I’m not advocating reckless abandon, but calculated risk. Truth is most people who try and fail put hours and hours of careful thought and sweat into their pursuits. They just don’t blab about it.

I’m not afraid to fail because I bounce. Most successful entrepreneurs I know have many business failures, but they have the ability to bounce back. Think about it, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You could lose friends, money, lose your house, lose your livelihood but if you are not afraid to do the hard work then you know ultimately things will be fine. You will recover. But let’s be honest, most people are not willing to work that hard or make the necessary adjustments. First challenge and they are out.

It makes me sad when someone calls me fearless, sad for them. Sad because I know what it really means is they are filled with fear. I wish more people lived outside their comfort zone, that’s where the good stuff happens.

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Hat Tips:

This Is A Book; Image Credits: Flickr, Business Insider, Facebook

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