Fear of failure can be paralyzing to entrepreneurs
I want to talk about two “F” words.
Failure and Fear.
Your feelings around these two little words might be making or breaking your business growth.
A fear of failure can freeze an entrepreneur in his or her tracks.
A healthy relationship with failure, however, can help a business owner build resilience, confidence and momentum in business.
So what you’re saying, Wendy, is that it’s good to fail?
And this is coming from someone who used to suffer from perfection-itis.
I was someone who would pour over a new program, or speech, or new technology, and wait and tweak and wait until everything felt just right before debuting my project baby to the world.
And if I failed, I was devastated.
Entrepreneur: Learn to master your fear of failure
I can tell you now from the other side, learning to have a healthy relationship with failure has been an absolute game changer for my business and personal life.
Accepting failure as an opportunity to make change has redesigned the way I work and live.
Failure is a gift. Failure helps us become better people/entrepreneurs/friends/partners.
It pushes us to be resilient, and to embrace a growth mindset that we’re always evolving.
And let’s be honest, when you put yourself out there, you’re going to experience failure time and time again.
Better get cozy!
Perfection Leads To Inaction, Failure Leads To Business Growth
We all want to become more successful, more visible, and more influential in our lives and in business.
But many of us find ourselves reciting an incredibly harmful mantra, that drives us in the opposite direction:
“I’m scared. I’m not ready. It’s not good enough. I can’t.”
We feel vulnerable to failure. So we avoid it.
I get it.
Failure can be soooo uncomfortable.
It can bring up tons up anxiety and deep-seated feelings of unworthiness.
How to move past your fear of failure in business
But I’m going to challenge you to get comfy with discomfort.
Let’s take it one step further – what if you actually began to actually get excited about the unknown, and possibly failing?
I want you to get down and dirty with the feeling of being uncomfortable.
It’s going to allow you to surmount so many scary things in your business.
Like asking for a speaking gig, or facilitating a big meeting, or pitching a new client.
What if instead of dreading failure, you chose to thankful for opportunities to fail?
What if you recognized that new challenges (with risk of failure) help you learn and become better/smarter/wiser/more successful?
Would that be a game changer for you?
The Failure-to-Growth Challenge
Here are three things you can do to overcome your fear of failure.
1. Switch your mindset and put the pressure aside
Rather than believing that all your contributions to the world have to be profound and earth-shattering, switch to understanding you just need to contribute to the larger conversation.
Your input doesn’t have to be perfect, or huge, or momentous. It just needs to add your unique perspective and value.
Be yourself, and imagine you’re having a conversation with someone you know. Let your thoughts flow, have fun, talk like you’re talking to a friend.
And casualize your “what-ifs.” If you make a mistake, it doesn’t have to be world-shattering. Instead, embrace the mindset that you will gladly welcome feedback and change.
If you make a typo and someone notices, you’ll say thank you.
If something’s broken, you’ll fix it.
If you stumble over your words, you’ll do it differently next time.
Think of all the great opportunities you have to offer something, serve your audience, be your authentic self, and make someone’s day.
No perfection needed.
Be calm and carry on.
Read on, young Jedi: How a Growth Mindset Drives Your Business Success
2. Take baby steps towards your goals
Don’t self-sabotage by trying to do everything at once.
Whether it’s one sentence, one comment, one like, etc., give it a try a little at a time.
Start by focusing on tiny contributions, and don’t be overwhelmed by the enormity of the big picture.
You don’t have to do a TED talk tomorrow.
But you do have to start taking steps. You have to get your ideas out there, see if you can sell them, see if people are interested, and start moving forward.
The difference between a “hobby” and a “business” is taking action. Even a little action at a time is going to help you build momentum.
Start with direct messaging two new connections every day. Then go up to five. Then ten.
Join a Facebook group today. Like someone’s post tomorrow. Comment next week.
Move slow if you need to, because baby steps are going to get you in a groove.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And believe me, the more you do, the easier it gets. And the more fun it gets (yes, I said fun!).
3. Know that you (and your business) don’t have to be picture-perfect
It’s ok to be imperfect.
Let’s be honest – your idea of perfect probably isn’t everyone else’s idea of perfect anyway.
And spoiler alert: no one is perfect. Nothing is ever perfect. There is no perfect.
The idea of perfection is unattainable, unreasonable, and it stops you from focusing on growth and change.
When you stay safe in your little arena of perfection, you swirl around and around not making moves.
Inaction is safe. Obsessing over details is safe. Not putting things out there is safe.
Success is not safe. Growth and change are not safe. You might (here’s the “F” word again)…fail.
And how are you going to feel when you experience failure?
Bummed that you have to start all over from scratch to try and make something else perfect again? Or ready to accept feedback, learn, change fast and move on?
I challenge you to stop letting your fears stand in the way of your big dreams, and obsessing over all the “what ifs.” Most of those what-ifs never happen anyway.
Instead, when you find yourself thinking your program, course, niche, pitch, blog post, speech, etc. has to be perfect, cut yourself some slack.
Remember that tweaking and tweaking and tweaking gets you get stuck in the perfection spiral. It’s exhausting and it’s unproductive.
You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be darn good (and willing to grow and change and always become better and better).
Successful Entrepreneurs Are Fantastic Failures
In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs have not only failed tons of times, they still feel the fear.
The difference between you and them? They feel the fear of failure and take action in spite of the fear.
Do you think Edison got the lightbulb right on the first try? Nope. He failed about 10,000 times.
Or that Michael Jordan landed his first free throw? Nah.
When Jordan first tried out for his high school basketball team, he didn’t make varsity.
The first time he got to the NBA playoffs, his Bulls were knocked out in the first round.
The next two years, they were swept by the Boston Celtics. After that, the Bulls were beat by the Detroit Pistons three years in a row.
He’s said: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot… and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Be like Mike.
As entrepreneurs, when things set us back we have to pick ourselves up from the metaphoric ground, shake it off, and keep on keepin’ on.
Otherwise, we’ll never get anywhere with our big ideas.
Putting yourself out there and being willing to fail is brave – no doubt about it.
We all fail at some point. It might take 5,000 attempts before something sticks.
But you’re never going to get anywhere with your business growth if you don’t get out there and be willing to fail.
Even on your hard days.
Even when you don’t feel like it.
Even when your voice in your head warns you that without a perfect plan, your program/speech/promotion/class/pitch won’t be the show-stopping firework you want it to be.
Tell that voice that you’re just getting started.
You’re going to get out there and fail forward. You’re going to learn, and gain insight, and get feedback that’s going to help you grow quickly and with direction.
And then thank the universe for the chance to fail.
If you’re ready for more ways to get out, get known, get clients and get growing, I invite you to schedule a call with me and take your first steps on the fast track to real, ongoing, game-changing business growth.