Failure is subjective, but for all of us it is borne from our expectations.
What for one would be a failure, for another would be their wildest dreams.
Failure comes in many disguises from “people will laugh at me” to “I won’t be strong enough”… from an insecurity of our own personal vision, to an insecurity -and also overestimation- of our own skills.
Let me break down 3 easy ways to overcome the fear of failure.
Believe In Yourself.
Normally when we’re most scared of physical failure it’s because we place high expectations on ourselves, but also don’t have the belief that we’re capable.
Say you’re doing a race, and there’s an obstacle you’re worried about: for me it’s stairway to heaven, so let’s use that as an example. There are two ways to face it, I can accept that I don’t yet have the skill set to achieve my goal, and to train towards it. Or I can hope I can do it, but also say “I’m not capable”.
Until you can believe that you *currently* aren’t capable, but you have the strength within you to train and work hard at it, you will never achieve it. Once you believe in yourself, but understand what it takes and are willing to put in the effort, you are taking your first step towards achievement.
Let’s say I’ve spent all year working towards this goal, race day comes and I do indeed fail. What happens next? Do I accept that ok, I’ve worked hard, but not hard enough; add in the other obstacles, running, fatigue, it was just too much for me. Do I look forward and strengthen my goals? Or do I get annoyed, blame the race, blame the weather, have a face like thunder, and refuse to accept my responsibility?
This is where the dichotomy of high expectations and low self belief comes in.
We see this often, perhaps we get carried away on a success of a race, we placed better than we expected, and we believe our own hype. Maybe our training has been going well and we have an over inflated self-image in our head. It’s easy to believe that we deserve to be able to complete these actually very technical and difficult tasks, often without putting in the hours and hours of work required.
We look forward towards the finish line, “power of positive thinking!”, whilst ignoring what needs to happen in the middle. So we expect that we will achieve something great, but deep down, we know we won’t.
It needs to be the opposite.
To see the hard work it requires, to respect the effort it takes, to not expect to succeed, but to know you can.
Don’t be afraid of failing.
So you don’t achieve your goal the first time you are truly tested. Or you’re in training and you’re struggling, you keep falling time and time again. So what?
How many people do you think did great things by doing them the first time round? How many world champions haven’t fallen over more times than they can count? No one is born with these innate skills, they take dedication, hard work, and practice… and it shows a lot of arrogance to be angry when you don’t immediately succeed
Another, and interesting aspect to failure isn’t the physical failure, it’s when people are worried that they’ll fall short of the expectations of others. That they will fail in others eyes.
This can range from being scared of being laughed at, or worrying about letting people down by not being as good as they think you will be. This can hold you back, massively.
You need to be free and confident in yourself, in your own abilities.
It’s only when you truly let go that you can achieve great things, when you are uptight and worried you are always holding yourself back.
Let me say this: NO-ONE is laughing at you. That only happens in high school movies. No one cares, to be quite honest. Everyone is their own person, running their own race, focusing on themselves and their own obstacles. No one is there to laugh at anyone, if anything, they’re only there to support.
And being worried about letting people down? Who? Who would you let down? If you try your hardest and put your heart and soul into it, if you race with integrity, passion, and honesty, there is no way any one could be disappointed in you.
This type of failure isn’t a thing, it isn’t something you can do, so it isn’t worth worrying yourself over.
Put yourself out of your comfort zone.
So we’ve established that the failure that comes from our own personal insecurities, the fear of being laughed at and letting others down doesn’t really exist, so we’ll ignore that now, but the other type of failure? Oh, that’s very real.
The word failure sounds so negative. It’s one we don’t like to use, but it’s not a negative word.
Firstly, think of it this way: failing at something means you tried. It means you gave something difficult a go. You put yourself out of your comfort zone and tried.
Failing makes you stronger, it makes you try harder.
When you accept your failure and embrace it, when you realize that you failed not because of someone else, not because of the conditions. Once you can’t blame anyone else but yourself, you will realize you have to try harder than you have before, and this gives you the drive and determination to succeed.
Failure teaches you. It teaches you about yourself as a person and it teaches you about what you failed at. So I can’t do stairway to heaven still? Great! This gives me something new that I can train, this gives me ways to grow and learn. How is that not a good thing?
If you’re too afraid, if you fear failure, you’ll never succeed, you’ll never achieve anything. You will always be saying “what if?”, unless you take that chance. Those who never take the chance, will never win.
Francesca is an avid obstacle course racer, TV host, and blogger at Mud Is My Makeup. Follow her Instagram at @MudIsMyMakeUp and @FranChiorando.