Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Isha Cogborn’s book, “5 Rules to Win in the Business of Being You.” Order your copy on Amazon
Failure: The ultimate F-word. It‘s nasty enough to keep many from ever even taking a step toward making their professional dreams come true. I wonder how many books were never written, inventions never created, businesses never launched, and problems never solved because of the fear of failure.
The United States, in particular, has created a culture where missing the mark evokes fear in the heart of most people. What happened in elementary school when you were wrong? Big red mark. What about when you gave the right answer? Gold star! Every day children sit mortified in classrooms around the country afraid that they‘ll be called on and won‘t have the right answer.
This dangerous trend continues into adulthood as people sit in meetings with amazingly innovative ideas, but too afraid to speak up because their suggestion may not be well-received. What would happen if scientists halted their research whenever the first hypothesis didn‘t prove to be true? If companies threw in the towel whenever a product launch wasn‘t a blockbuster success?
Overcoming the fear of failure requires a process of unraveling these toxic thoughts. When I decided it was time to become a full-time entrepreneur, there were plenty of people with plenty of reasons why it wasn‘t prudent. We were experiencing a nasty recession in the U.S., and companies and individuals didn‘t have as much discretionary income for things like coaching and training. Here‘s the conversation I had with myself:
Q: What are your afraid of?
A: If my business doesn‘t take off soon enough, I could lose my house.
Q: Then what?
A: I‘d have to move into an apartment and wait a few years to restore my credit before buying another home — or be successful enough that I can pay cash for the next one.
Q: What else could happen if you fail?
A: I‘ll have to figure out what I did wrong and start over, and possibly get a job until I build my financial reserves back up.
Q: Then what?
A: I could lose my savings, which would force me to be very conservative with my spending so that I can deal with any emergencies that arise.
Q: Are you capable of doing that?
Q: What’s the best thing that could happen if your business succeeds?
A: I will be in a position to help countless people around the world make their professional dreams come true. They‘ll make an impact on the world as they live their purpose, creating an immeasurably positive impact.
Q: What else could happen?
A: I could experience the satisfaction that comes from doing work I enjoy that utilizes my talents, abilities, passions and experiences (TAPE). I won‘t be sick and stressed out every day because of my work.
Q: Then what?
A: I‘ll be compensated well for what I do and be able to build a legacy for generations to come.
Q: Does what you stand to gain outweigh what you stand to lose?
You know what? I did lose my house after I decided to move from Michigan to Arizona and couldn‘t maintain expenses in two locations while waiting for it to sell. And just as outlined above, I moved into an apartment before being able to rent a home that was larger than my first one a couple years later. My worst fear was realized, but it wasn‘t the end of the world. If I had to do it over again knowing what the outcome would be, I would have still made the same choice.
Staying focused on what you have to gain takes the sting out of a temporary setback. And all setbacks are temporary as long as you don‘t quit.
Watch the video below and learn how you can kick your fear of failure to the curb for good!