In Chapter 10 of Core Confidence we talk about facing our fears, and the most common one for many of us is the fear of failure. Intellectually, we all know failure at some point is a given; the trick is to learn to cope with its inevitability otherwise it becomes a roadblock to pursuing and achieving our goals.

Responses to failure

Unpacking our relationship with failure and understanding our response to it gives us an insight into our mindset and resilience. Do we typically play it safe or small? Or do we have the confidence to speak up and be more visible? The good news, both can be changed and strengthened!

There are two general responses to failure:

  1. Pull back and raise the red flag.
  2. Lean in and take the learning opportunities.

The importance of your mindset

American psychologist Carol Dweck distinguishes between two mindsets – fixed and growth. With a fixed mindset, failure is seen as a measure of the self, a personal shortcoming. Those with a fixed mindset will often react as number one above.

Conversely, a growth mindset understands that while failure can be painful, it doesn’t define us. In fact, failure is something to be faced, dealt with, and learned from, often revealing other pathways and approaches to challenges that arise.

In her work, Dweck discusses the benefits of moving out of our comfort zone to build a growth mindset through continuous improvement. If we’re not trying, we’re not failing and if we’re not failing, we’re not learning.

Applying this idea that failing is the quickest way to success fosters the courage to fail. Getting it out of the way and to the other side makes the learning curve faster and as Zig Ziglar said, “FEAR has two meanings – Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise”.

Overcoming your fear of failure

Reframing your fear of failure will determine your response to it. Because what is failure when there is so much to be gained from making mistakes, trying again and learning lessons from each of our experiences?

Insights from not getting something right can truly be liberating – we just have to believe it.