Wednesday 19 August 2009

Eliminating the Fear of Failure

Eliminating the Fear of Failure

"Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality." Nikola Tesla
Here are some ways you can use meaning-making to instantly reduce (or even eliminate) fear of failure.
In the domain of science, an experiment is an approach for acquiring deeper knowledge about the world, while setting out to solve a particular problem or answer a particular question. Scientists design & perform experiments in order to find out what happens.
Experiments don't succeed or fail per se - they just have an outcome, revealing something about the world in the process. The insidious fear of failure

Lots of people set goals of one sort or another to help live the kinds of lives they desire. Yet all too often, goal-setting can be "corrupted" by fear of failure, which can...
· Stop people setting goals in the first place
· Put so much pressure on them to succeed that they crumble
· Create a focus on failure that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
In addition, we've all been told how useful it can be to...
· "Detach from result" & "enjoy the process"
· Believe that there's no failure, only feedback
· That you only fail if you don't learn
However... if it's your 15th time trying to stop smoking, or your weight is still yo-yoing after 200 diets, or you're still broke despite setting big-hairy-goals to make a billion dollars, these aphorisms may fall a bit flat.
Here's an alternative. You can frame goals as experiments.
You can frame goals as experiments
Instead of framing goals as win/lose, succeed/fail affairs, you can frame them as experiments.
1) Read the following goal-pairs out loud & find out how they feel different to you...
Success frame
I want to get super fit & healthy, eat nourishing food & look stunningly great.
Experiment frame
For the next month, I want to find out what happens when I avoid sugar, eat plenty of protein & slow carbs, & take regular exercise.
Success frame
I want to become fabulously wealthy.
Experiment frame
For the next 90 days, I want to find out what happens when leave my credit cards in a drawer, live only on cash, & spend 20 minutes a day taking action on increasing my financial intelligence.
While the "success frame" goals can be quite exciting & motivational, they also run the risk of activating the succeed/fail polarity - fear of failure. While it's really useful to set big motivational goals, it may be worth then reframing them as action-oriented experiments.
Why? Because an experiment means something different. The purpose of an experiment is for discovering something, learning something about the world (and yourself).
2) For some change you want to make or goal you want to achieve, find out what happens when you frame it as an action-oriented experiment.
"OK" I hear you say "But what if the thing I'm afraid of failing it is bigger than an experiment. I want to embark on a new career, but I'm worried that if I screw it up, I'll wind up broke & at the bottom of the career ladder."
I was saying goodbye to a friend of mine recently, & I said "Take care." He replied to me "Don't take care - have an adventure."
In cases where an experiment isn't quite enough, you may need something bigger. An adventure!
You can always have an adventure
It's possible to frame any endeavour as an adventure.
· Want to try out a new career? You may love it, or you may loathe it, but either way, you'll have an adventure.
· Want to quit your job & sail around the world? You'll have an adventure.
· Want to start your own business? You'll have an adventure.
· Want to leave a relationship? Or start a new one? You'll have an adventure.
These days, I see my life as one big adventure. The great thing about this is that it doesn't require things to turn out a certain way. After all, adventures are full of twists & turns of one sort or another.
3) If you wish, you might like to find out what happens when you frame life as an adventure.
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure."Helen Keller

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