Could you embrace your fear of failure?

The author Sadie Jones once said about her writing, ‘You imagine a cathedral and on the page, it’s a garden shed.’

I do know that feeling, and not just in relation to writing. So often, you have great ideas for your small venture but when it comes to turning them into reality, the results can sometimes be a little disappointing.

Then, in an attempt not to beat yourself up and add to the pressure you feel already, you tell yourself that whatever you do is good enough. That building a garden shed is actually OK.

And sometimes it is. Maybe that’s what you were meant to do in the first place. Because it is more  aligned with who you are. In any case, what if building a cathedral had been a stupid idea? And completely unrealistic too?

Then again, what if that is not true. Do you just accept the status quo?

If your heart was set on building a cathedral, why can’t you!

If the project is too big or too hard, can you get help? Outsource some of it, or look for other easier ways to build it? The point at which we discard any alternative approaches may be our cue to look a bit deeper at what might be holding us back.

Last year, I worked with a business owner who, a year into her business, felt that it had stalled. She had thought about investing into her marketing, but wasn’t sure if that was what the business truly needed. In the meantime she procrastinated feeling uneasy and unmotivated. Something wasn’t right.

I was in a similar situation once. Because I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I ended up taking time out from my business. It took me ages to work out that I had been the ‘problem’, the cause of my dithering all along.  And it then took me ages to do something about it and step back into my business. In the meantime, I had lost some great opportunities.

The moral of the story? Don’t wait too long. Talk to someone you trust.

When my client and I had a conversation about her situation, she realised quite quickly that there was nothing obviously wrong. She didn’t need new or better marketing strategies. She hadn’t lost her way. Her business idea was still fulfilling her too.

She had just reached a barrier because of a fear of failure and not being good enough. When she voiced thoughts like “What if I fail in my business because I’m not a good enough at marketing myself and doing everything I need to do“ it was as if a weight lifted from her shoulders.

What you learn from fear of failure

Fear of failure can so easily prevent business owners making progress. Sometimes we look for reasons why something can’t be done, even people to blame.  And initially we don’t always realise that it is us holding ourselves back.

How our fears impact us 

Rather surprisingly, fear of success is not that uncommon either. Because sometimes we just don’t know how to cope with the unknown of either situation, success or failure. Because they cause change. (“What if people don‘t like me any more once I am …. ?”) And this can make us feel threatened and out of our depth.

So whenever you feel stuck in your business, ask yourself first what might be holding you back. What’s stopping you? Is there anything you’re afraid of? 

Whatever your fear, acknowledging rather than denying is how you can start to manage it. OK, it may cause you some discomfort to accept it but, trust me, the reward will be worth it.

The beauty of embracing a fear is that it will become less daunting. You start to sit with it compassionately rather than critically. Some people find walking helps them to think something like this through. Or you could explore this in conversation with someone, in a meditation, or in your journal.

Embracing a fear with compassion will help you to accept that you are not perfect. And that it is ok because nobody is perfect anyway; we are all human and everyone will be fighting their own battles.

Other questions you can ask yourself

“What is the worst that can happen?“

What would you do if that actually happened? Once you realise that you have strategies to cope with whatever that is, your fear loses power. And any small action you take from now on will be meaningful in its own right. Because small actions – baby steps – are so much less scary anyway.

It is always good to stretch your thinking and what you do. Taking small steps outside your comfort zone is what grows your confidence. Learning and growing is what we do all the time, sometimes we even do it subconsciously.

But to do it consciously opens the door to new realisations and a real sense of achievement. That‘s not a bad reward, is it?! Neither is the renewed sense of enthusiasm you will feel for building your cathedral and doing whatever it takes to achieve it.

If this resonates with you, why not check in with yourself from time to time and ask, “Am I still building ‘my cathedral’?

And if not, is that ok? Why is that Ok?

Or do I have a fear stopping me? And if yes, what would help me think about it differently?



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