About facing fears of failure and success
Many people in my professional network as well as my friends and family know that I recently launched an online course on “Trust in the Workplace.” I am receiving good feedback from peer consultants and clients about my course.
Many people in my professional network as well as my friends and family know that I recently launched an online course on “Trust in the Workplace.” I am receiving good feedback from peer consultants and clients about my course. However, very few people really know that I was agonizing over this project for at least a year. In 2020, I had content, I had ideas, and I know for sure I have skills and competences to make this project successful.
For months during the pandemic, I was tormenting myself reviewing and polishing training material for this course, doubting myself, overthinking and overanalysing. For months, I was not able to name the reason for which I was not able to make a public announcement and launch my course.
It is in conversations with trusted friends and colleagues I realized that I was afraid to fail, and I was afraid to succeed.
If I fail, I was telling myself, it will crush me. So I was anticipating potential pain of “losing face” and suffer from a problem that didn’t even exist. I know that I have deeply internalized fear of humiliation, fear of losing respect of others if I make a mistake or appear to be unprofessional, or lose reputation. What I was not aware of for many years is how this assimilated cultural norm of “preserving face” or “saving face” resulted in my resistance to move forward, even if the product is not perfect and, subsequently in self-sabotage. This part of my mental barriers was easy to share, talk through with my friends and it easier to overcome once I understood this need to maintain my dignity.
I understand my fear of failure better now. But why one would afraid of success? Isn’t it something that most of us want and striving for?
If I dig deeper, I suppose I fear more of all attention that might get (or not!). I am imagining the avalanche of emails and questions that I won’t be able to answer. I am imagining humiliation of not being able to keep up with demand. These fears make me feel small, and I often procrastinate.
What really helped me to get out of overthinking and overanalyzing loop, and inaction, is the idea of redefining my definition of success. How do I see the success of my online course? If I think only of a single course that I need to launch and then face the consequences of putting myself in the spotlight, my fear becomes unmanageable.
What if my definition of success would include a continuous process, several offers within a year or two? In this case, I could see that I just won’t have time to be afraid of the spotlight, or extra attention. I learned to change my perspective of how I see my own success. Reframing success makes it easier to see my work as a continuum and not as “press-the-launch-button-and-run” event. This way I mentally can assess the larger scope of work and prepare for a marathon, not a sprint.
"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston S. Churchill
This quote helped me to normalize my fears, and take success less seriously. It reminded me that success is the courage of pushing myself forward despite fears, pandemic, excuses, etc. Doing something new is hard. There are few benchmarks to compare with. Putting myself out in the public arena with a risk of failure is excruciatingly tough, especially for an introvert like me. So, I am thankful for any sign of hope, for any message of support, for quotes that keep me motivated and fearless. Let me know what do you think. What motivates you these days? How do you overcome your fears? Share, so we can collectively learn from your experience.