So, everyone hates to fail. But for some of us, failing presents such a huge threat that our motivation to avoid failure exceeds our motivation to succeed. Hear that again:
The motivation to avoid failure outweighs the motivation to succeed.
This fear of failure causes us to unconsciously sabotage our chances of success often through avoidance or procrastination.
Most failures bring feelings of disappointment, frustration, regret, anger, and even sadness. Atychiphobia takes it one step further to a place of shame. Shame that we failed. People with true fear of failure avoid failing, not because we cannot manage the basic emotions of failure, but because of the underlying feeling of shame. Interesting, huh? Ringing true?
Shame is a toxic emotion because instead of feeling bad about our efforts, or lack of action, we feel bad about who we are. Shame gets to the core of our identity, our self-esteem, our self-worth.
Last summer, we sidekicked (assisted) at a Teen Leadership Foundation training. It’s sort of like Driven For Life’s BOLD Leadership training meshed with The Forge Team Execution but for teens.
On Saturday of the training, we watched two of the young teens drop into full anxiety attacks including tears and hyperventilating as they anticipated joining the team in scaling over a 7ft beam. One was fearful she couldn’t make it over. The other was afraid of embarrassment as she tried.
The very next day, 24 hours later, we watched each of them solo climb a 30ft telephone pole called the Leap of Faith, using only metal staple footholds. Reaching the top, they stood, yes stood, on top, unassisted, on the very top of the pole as it slightly swayed with their weight. At the top of their lungs, they called into the wind their individual “brand” – their calling, their why, their purpose – the words they choose to be defined by.
Once complete, they dove off the top to catch a trapeze swing 6ft away. Seriously! Not to worry, they are tethered by a very strong rope (belay) controlled by the instructor on the ground (belayer). Once the student lets go, they are lowered to the ground. Rope or no rope, one day earlier they couldn’t fathom being helped over a log 7ft in the air. Now they are jumping off a 3-story high telephone pole.
How does this happen? We make a decision. The decision leads to action. The action leads to results.
So, what’s the decision? It’s not to just put the fear aside. That is much easier said than done. No, it’s to dig deep. Be willing to risk seeing what limits we have self-imposed. It is identifying the limits and breaking through them. Demolish them. Leaving them on the table and moving on.
Then climb a 30-ft pole … and jump.