What Keeps You Awake at Night?
Fear of Failure
“Failure is another emotion I cannot stand to feel, because in adult life I have conditioned myself not to fail at anything. Failure takes me straight back to the feelings of worthlessness I grew up with as a stammering, reclusive little boy.” Jake Wood , Among You: The Extraordinary True Story of a Soldier Broken By War
Failure. Something we dread to be or to be associated with.
We hate the thought of failing at anything. Even worse, we don’t want others to know about our failure(s). We assume that they think we are perfect so why should we let on that we are human just like everybody else?
We are so caught up with not failing, that we lose sleep over it. Even when we do something right, we don’t celebrate because a problem we didn’t think about, God forbid, might arise. We tend to believe that the way life is, our successes are balanced by our failures. So, we must be prepared for the offsetting bad thing to happen at any moment.
What we should realize and don’t is that while failure is not something to celebrate, it is a natural part of life, ours and everybody else’s.
Many people who are touted as successes in life failed at one time or another. These included such notables as:
Walt Disney — Walt was fired by a newspaper editor. The editor told him that he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’. Undeterred, Disney went on to create a cultural icon that bears his name.
Albert Einstein — His name is synonymous with intelligence, Yet, as a child he didn’t start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped. He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world’s approach to physics.
J. K. Rowling — She was once on welfare. She was a broke, depressed, divorced single mother writing a novel while studying. Many publishers rejected Harry Potter before it became the success it is today.
Oprah Winfrey — She’s a billionaire with her own TV channel. But she was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore. She has come a long way since then.
Elvis Presley — After his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry, he was promptly fired. Presley went on to become the world’s biggest music star with a legacy that endures today.
There are many more examples of famous people who have failed.
What separates them from others is that they didn’t give up. They worked even harder because they knew they were good. It wasn’t to prove others wrong, it was to prove to themselves that they were right. And they were.
Did they lose sleep over it? Perhaps. But they got over it and moved on. They could have spent their time worrying that they really weren’t any good and were destined to a so-so life. Instead, the early failures made them even hungrier to succeed.
They could have spent their time thinking about what went wrong and determining that success wasn’t in the cards for them. Instead they spent the time to fix what went wrong and to come back bigger and better than maybe even they imagined.
“Fear is a notification of some weakness that needs to be cleared.”
― Aagam Shah
So, what separates you from these people?
Could it be that instead of facing a lack of success head on as they did, you are shrinking from it? Could be. Or maybe you are really not committed to the success you think you want.
In my book, “What About the Vermin Problem?”, this is one of the areas I cover; lack of commitment. I have dealt with many business owners who claim they want to succeed, but then do not do the things necessary in order to do so. That is not just a business owner issue. It also relates to individuals at many levels.
Too often they would prefer to complain about the bad breaks they have had that kept them from getting farther than they did. Bad breaks are a way of life. At one time or another we all have them.
“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.” — Sarah Dessen, contemporary American writer
It is somewhat coincidental that as I am writing this piece, I have just read an article entitled, “What You Choose to Focus On Becomes Your Reality”. How very, very true.
If failure becomes our focus, what do you think we are headed for? Similarly, if we focus on success, chances are good we will find that. There are no guarantees in life. I can attest to that. But we have more control of things than what we often believe. And it starts with our attitude and thought.
So where do you go from here? The choice is pretty much up to you. You can spend your time wallowing in what was and what difficulties await you or take control and action to head towards success. The choice is certainly in your hands. It will also allow you to get a great night’s sleep or What Keeps You awake at Night. I know what my choice is. What is yours?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter H. Christian was a founding partner and president of espi, a business consulting firm in Northeastern PA. Previously he was an Executive at Crayola Corporation. He has worked with 300+ clients in business development, profit improvement, operations, IS selection and implementation, and Project Management. He has 40+ years of experience in strategic and facility planning, CI, lean, and supply chain. He has helped companies to realize millions of dollars in cost reductions and profit improvements adding and retaining thousands of jobs. He has authored the Amazon bestselling business books, “What About the Vermin Problem?” and “Influences and Influencers” (4 out of 4 star review on Online Bookclub) and is published in a variety of professional magazines. He is most appreciative of Dr. Rodney Ridley and Donald Schalk of the O’Pake Institute, Alvernia University for their support in allowing him to teach this important course.