Overcoming Fear of Failure (Part 3)

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Ephesians 6:7-8 says: “With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord…”

Our quote for today is from Dale Carnegie. He said: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Today, in the Get Things Done podcast we are continuing with Part 3 of our series titled, “Overcoming Fear of Failure”.

In our last episode, we talked about how successes tend to occur in fixed proportions to attempts. The more often you try — and the more failures you chalk up — the more successes you have. Thus, if we want more success, we must simply make more attempts at doing things. We must ‘make a pile of chips.’ Today, we are going to consider how we can overcome the ‘vague dread’ of failure.

Sometimes, dealing with fear of failure isn’t as simple as just forcing yourself to “make chips.” Sometimes a vague dread of what might happen causes you to keep putting off the desired action. How do you deal with that?

That term vague dread holds the clue. As long as your fears are vague and undefined they are impossible to deal with, so the first step is to make them specific, concrete, identifiable. Pin down exactly what it is you’re afraid of.

This is another application of Pigeonholding. The point is that it’s difficult to deal with something that’s hazy and general, whether you’re talking about fear, procrastination, or any other problem. If you go for a medical checkup and announce that you don’t feel well, you aren’t given a prescription. Instead, the doctor begins to probe for more specifics. Until a precise label can be attached to your ailment it’s pointless even to think about remedies.

Although, in this case, we’ve already identified the ailment and labeled it: the label is fear. Fear of failure. But you must push beyond that; it’s still too general. Exactly why do you fear failure in this particular case? As you dig deeper you may realize, for example, that what you really dread is the embarrassment that would result from that failure. You would have to admit to your associates that you bombed, and that’s what’s really bothering you.

Now you have put your problem into a pigeonhole labeled Embarrassment Before Associates. You still haven’t solved your problem, but you have at least isolated it. Now, instead of trying to deal with a generality — fear of failure — you are dealing with a specific — your embarrassment when your associates would become aware of that failure. Now you can ask yourself some pertinent questions…

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