fear of failure

Don’t let the walls of fear box you in

In my experience there are three common fears that loom as towering walls limiting our ability to operate with resilience and incorporate that resilience into our day to day leadership practice. 

  • Fear of Uncertainty 
  • Fear of Loss 
  • Fear of Failure 

Fear of Uncertainty 

The uncertainty about what’s ahead often prevents us from dealing effectively with immediate crises. Yes, we realize things will no longer be the same, but have no idea how they will turn out. 

But you can influence the future, positively or negatively, by the actions you take today. 

Uncertainty is a barrier to resilience because it comes from within and often creates obstacles that aren’t actually there. If you don’t take the first step, the problem or change ahead of you will appear and remain bigger than it really is. 

Fear of Loss 

When you’re in a crisis facing change – especially when it seems that change  is beyond your control –  it can feel like something is being taken away from you. Maybe a decision was made that you didn’t agree with, or you didn’t have an opportunity to provide input. Either way there can be a sense of powerlessness that sinks right into your bones. 

To get around this acceptance is key. There will be a new reality. And your job is to focus on what you CAN control as a result of the new situation. Will you demonstrate resilience, or will you fall into victimhood? 

Fear of Failure 

Failure is typically viewed as a bad thing. But fear of failure can be debilitating and puts you in your most vulnerable position as a leader. 

In her book, Dare to Lead, Brené Brown describes vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” 

Some organizations do not tolerate risk or failure, even though they may say they do. 

Past failure can be a confidence zapper. You may have made decisions or taken action that didn’t work out, so now you’re hesitant. You don’t want to make the same mistake again. 

I’d like you to consider failure differently – as a way of benefitting from your experiences, looking at the takeaways of what worked well, and learning from what didn’t. Then try again. 

Failure is one of the greatest teachers and can strengthen your position as you move ahead. 

Getting through these three walls of fear can seem daunting. Your path around (or over or under) these walls begins with recognizing that fear is present, naming the type of fear you are experiencing, and identifying how those fears are manifesting internally, influencing your behavioral and emotional response.