Fear of Failure? Three Tips to Guarantee Success

It takes guts and determination to invest the other 8 hours into improving yourself or starting a business. If you've taken night classes, started a blog, or have participated at Toastmasters, you know you are putting yourself on the line. It's hard work and there is ample room for disappointment, rejection, and yes, dare I say failure?

It's the "f" word that is more obscene and crude than the other, more well known "f" word. What is our obsession with failure? People see failure as a colossal mistake. It's not. When I start a new venture, I feel like I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. What would happen if I started a venture and it failed? Guess what? I've started ventures and they have failed (gasp!). Big deal. You get up to the plate, swing for the fences, and sometimes you miss. Babe Ruth is famous for his home run record, but you might not know he also held the record for strikeouts for decades. "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run," Babe said.

Here's how you can guarantee some level of success regardless of the outcome:

  • Learn. Approach each venture as a learning experience. One of my favorite mottos is "sometimes you win and sometimes you learn." Starting a new business is like getting a crash course MBA. People pay hundreds of thousands of dollars and spend years in college to get this education, but you have the opportunity to learn those lessons in the real world. You have to approach the world and your venture as a learning experience. You must be open to learning and growing. Regardless of what happens with this venture, you can take what you've learned and apply it to new ventures for the rest of your life.
  • Network. Bestselling author Tim Sanders says, "your network is your net worth." Every venture you start will lead you to new people. Don't be casual about the relationships you form -- be proactive. Everyone you meet has the opportunity to teach you something. Learn from their successes and failures. Everyone you meet has the opportunity to introduce you to someone else who can help you -- maybe not today and maybe not with this venture, but maybe a year from now in a completely unrelated venture. Be aware of those connections and nourish them.
  • Don't burn bridges. Whatever you do, treat others with respect. Don't lie or take advantage of them or of a situation. Deals go bad all the time, but relationships shouldn't. Protect your reputation. It's a small world and it's getting smaller. Bad relationships are likely to come back to haunt you. Be honorable and professional.
If you have a fear of failure -- starting a side business, speaking in public, taking classes, accepting more responsibility at work -- you'll remain stuck. In the short-term, it's a whole lot easier to read a novel, watch TV, or surf Facebook than it is to take chances, but this risk-adverse thinking will, at best, keep you right where you are and, more likely, cause you to slowly fall farther and farther behind.

A much better (although scarier) long-term approach is to take chances. Just know that you will swing and you will miss. It doesn't matter how gifted you are or how many personal development blogs you read. But, and this is key, a swing and a miss is not a failure when you live by the tips above.

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(Landscape image by vsz, CC 2.0)