You’ve probably read this phrase about fear in one form or another. The last time I came across it was in a short Fast Company article about performance under pressure. While I’m far from the extreme circumstances outlined in the article, it reminded me that we all face fear of failure. It can take the form of a serious doubt, a horrible menace or a simple warning. It can be discouraging or even intimidating. And it can make us wonder how on earth we would possibly be able to handle it? At this moment a panic attack is probably lurking around the corner.
A colleague of mine who was under a lot of pressure to find a new job earlier this year asked me how I dealt with the fear of failure. My response was plain: what helps me most is visualizing milestones of my path that I considered successful and gratifying. These achievements I usually don’t think of are a reliable source of support when fear seems to take over. They slightly change my perspective, bring me back to a state in which I can better assess the situation at hand and look for ways to deal with it more reasonably. This is by no means a recipe and doesn’t always work perfectly, but is definitely a good starting point for me. My colleague found a new, exciting job that she enjoys. She is not fear-less, but more determined to face fear and do it anyway.
It can be challenging to deal with fear at times (or every time). It’s not fear, it’s our reaction to it that defines us to a certain extent. Overcoming fear has been one of the most important experiences that has played a role in shaping my personality. Sometimes I wish the fear of failure would have been less present in my past, that I would have had an easier, more straightforward life. Had this been the case, would I have become the person I’m now? Most probably not. What is certain, though, is that embracing fear and acting despite its presence is not an easy path, but one worth going.