Many of us, including yours truly, have experienced this at one time or another. The fear of failing can be immobilizing – it can cause us to do nothing, and therefore prevent us from moving forward. When we allow fear to stop our forward progress in life, we’re likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.
Below are three methods/philosophies that I commonly implement to manage the fear of failure:
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic Philosophy founded in Athens. It concerns the relationship between fate and freedom. Stoics believe that remaining calm during suffering can help overcome destructive emotions and build self-control though reason and truth. The following are the ideals of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous stoics:
- Immediately recognize what is out of your control.
- Fear, anger, and all other emotions are personal choices, regardless of outer circumstances.
- Live a life centered on principles, not wealth, awards, or power.
- People who misbehave do not deserve an emotional reaction from you.
- Meditate daily to revive your commitment to a principle-centered life.
- Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Here are the four components of EI as it applies to overcoming the Fear of Failure:
- Self-awareness – Realize when you are emotionally stressed.
- Self-management – Recognize when to take a step back, control your emotions, and adapt to different circumstances.
- Social Awareness – Understand and respond empathetically to the emotions of others. Despite what you may be feeling, each individual is also dealing with emotional stress.
- Relationship Management – Most times, people can walk though a room without anyone noticing anxiety issues. But it is important to connect with people you trust and discuss conflicts and stresses. Close relationships are vital to success.
By far, the most potent weapon on this list is humor. Humor works for me in two ways:
- Laughing is one the best stress-relievers around. When you make others laugh, it can change the whole dynamic of the room. I find that when the group is laughing, even during an important or stressful meeting, the entire mood becomes more positive.
- Wit and sarcasm often helps me put my anxiety inside. This method works wonders in preventing me from retreating inward. Humor can keep everyone, including me, engaged in the conversation.
*One Last Note*
While the above methods have worked for me, they may not work for you. Everyone is different and deals with stress and anxiety in different ways. If you are having trouble with work or personal issues, I strongly advise you to see a professional. Many companies have Employee Assistance Programs that provide free help.