Why Fear is Powerful and How a Failure Can Help You Succeed
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
— Marianne Williamson
When my son was 3, he absolutely wanted to go on a small roller coaster. We tried to dissuade him but in the end I gave in and took him. I could see he was scared during the steep downhills.
When I asked him afterwards how it felt he said: “I was scared. But it was good scared.” and he wanted to go again. At three he had nailed the whole notion of fear!
How”s that you ask?
Fear can manifest in many different ways.
Sometimes it’s even so well disguised that we call it something else. For instance, have you ever used these crutches?
Are you just waiting for people to “get you” before taking any action?
Are you waiting for someone to tell you to do it?
Are you waiting for criticism or judgment?
Are you victim of the When/Then Syndrome? (When this or that happens, Then I will be able to move on?)
Sitting in the waiting room drains your energy. Literally. You’re not doing anything. You’re not in control of your life. You’re putting your life on hold and in the hands of someone to make a decision for you or for something to happen to you.
Are you constantly explaining to people why you’re doing something or not doing something?
Are you justifying your choices, even to yourself?
By explaining everything you do, you’re playing small. You’re reacting instead of creating your life.
Are you having doubts (the unrealistic ones) that keep you from starting anything?
Are you saying things like “well, maybe” when an opportunity comes up?
Doubts are actions of protection. But when confronted with unrealistic doubts, the protection becomes an excuse. The “well, maybe” language you use is victim speak: it lets fear in through the back door instead of the front.
- Comfort and routine:
Are you happy with the way things are?
Are you frustrated if your routine is upset by something?
Are you refusing actions and projects that could unsettle your comfortable situation?
By staying in your comfort zone, you’ll have a tendency to fall asleep and let life pass you by.
As you can see, fear has a powerful negative influence on your life when you are waiting, explaining, doubting or just feeling too comfortable in your routine.
If you let fear have this influence, it can easily turn into a phobia. A phobia is an extreme, irrational fear. This type of fear can put a roadblock in your drive to success.
Fear of failure (atychiphobia) is one of the most common and most paralyzing phobias.
It’s a vicious circle: we are so worried about failing that we don’t try something. This can subconsciously undermine our efforts so we don’t try anymore. It then becomes fear of success. And doesn’t that sound ridiculous?
Why failure is necessary and helps you succeed
Let’s say you had a baby about a year ago and it’s starting to make its first attempts at walking. One day, it finally takes its first step. And whoops, falls to the floor. Do you as parents say: ”Oh well, guess this one wasn’t made for walking?” and put him in a chair forever? Of course not, you let him try again and again and eventually, out of nowhere he walks across the room.
Failure in this case is baby’s best teacher. It’s not a confirmation that he’s useless. It teaches him to change something so next time, or the time after, it may work.
There is an excellent commercial where Michael Jordan says he has missed more than 9000 shots, lost more than 300 games and missed 26 game-winning shots. He says he has failed over and over again in his life and that is why he succeeds.
And that’s what life is all about: progression, not perfection.
Progression is not selling yourself short, underachieving or letting yourself down. Progression is a journey that leads to accomplishment, to moving on, to developing a better you, a better life. It’s here to teach you your flaws and how they can be beautiful.
Or as Leonardo Da Vinci put it: “An arch is two weaknesses which together make a strength.”
So next time you’re afraid of failure, or something else, trust my son: it is “good scared”! Don’t be afraid to be powerful beyond measure. Go find another weakness, combine the two and build arches!
Do it scared!
About the Author - Mindful Mimi (Miranda van den Heuvel)
Mindful Mimi is a working mother of two boys who are the continuous source of her creative approach to life.
She is also a writer, artist, blogger and photographer.
She runs Creative Workshops that bring creativity and innovation back to the workplace. For creative inspiration, visit her Mindful Creativity page on Facebook.
Since Mindful Living is not possible alone, she is running projects to bring the corporate world closer to charity to make a Mindful Impact.