Is a fear of failure damaging your career? How to move through this mental block towards success…
I’ve written a couple of blogs on building confidence, and it’s quite often at the root of clients’ problems. When someone comes to a standstill in their career, it can often be a self-imposed plateau. Sub-consciously, we can be so afraid of failing that we remove the impetus to even try. Instead, we tell ourselves that it’s better to stay at a level where we’re deemed skilled and able, than move up the next rung on the ladder that may bring our shortcomings to the fore.
However, by staying in this self-induced stasis, we’re also shutting out opportunity. The possible embarrassment or humiliation if we make a mistake can be so strong, however low the probability may be, that we refuse to run the risk of trying new things. The need to be accomplished and perfect at all we do can often mean we don’t learn new skills or try to beat new challenges – not only are our careers stifled in this scenario, but our self-development too.
Accept that everyone’s human
Everyone makes mistakes – even those at the top of their careers and those running multi-billion turnover organisations; it’s part of our human nature. If we look at each mistake for the positive, and find out what we’ve learned from the process (there will always be a lesson in there – even if it’s why we shouldn’t do such a thing again), we can apply this knowledge next time around, or towards another challenge altogether.
Consider also that we all have different values and belief: what might be ‘failure’ to you may not be as apparent to others. Even if you do make a mistake, you’ll learn humility, so there’s always some good to be realised. You may learn some things about yourself that have previously been hidden, such as your tenacity, your graciousness, your determination…all valuable traits in any career.
Don’t let your past affect your future
Your self-confidence may have been bruised or affected by a parent, teacher or friend in the past, leaving you to believe you’re no good in some areas of your life. By holding on to this assumption, you’re still allowing the person who said this to you to hold power over you and your career – and why should they have that satisfaction? Holding on to anger or fear that someone else inflicted hurts only you, not them. Instead, push through these feelings towards success – it’s the best way to show the critics how wrong they were.
If you don’t try things, how will you know what else you’re good at, or what new things you may enjoy?
Life is full of opportunities. Although trying a new challenge might see you fail in the attempt, you may, indirectly, find something else you may like to do, or attract some new opportunity as a result. If you don’t ever put yourself ‘out there’, how will anyone know you exist, except within your current role/company? Opportunity rarely comes looking for you.
If you imagine what the worse case scenario could be before you embark on something new, and you’re able to accept it, when it happens, you’ll be equipped to deal with it. Also, you’ll most probably find that when – indeed, if – the scenario occurs, it won’t be anywhere near as bad as you previously imagined.
Take baby steps
If you’ve been in an immobilising situation for a while, due to a fear of failure, it may feel too big a leap to suddenly apply for that promotion, for example. Instead, set small goals towards your desired outcome. Perhaps learning a new skill or taking some evening classes that will help you in your coveted role could be a manageable first step.
Try not to focus on the bigger picture if this seems too daunting; instead, give all your attention to the smaller goal in hand. Building up your confidence in this way is more likely to change your beliefs than one rash move or jump after years of negative self-talk. You’ll learn to move forward at a much more manageable pace.
If you’d like my help in this respect, I offer career coaching services. Contact me on 01302 220021 for an informal, no obligation chat about your needs.
Thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for use of the main image.
- Posted in: Career Coaching ♦ Emotional Intelligence ♦ Executive Coaching
- Tagged: baby steps, career coaching, career stasis, confidence, emotional intelligence, executive coaching, failure, fear in career, fear of failure, learning from mistakes, making mistakes, perfectionism, promotion, self-confidence