We have all heard the phrase, "fear of failure". But is it fear of failing, or is it truly a fear of not succeeding? Some people may say that the fear of failure and the fear of not succeeding are the same. They are not. As a programmer, I have often failed for hours, even days, struggling to get things right. Then suddenly, in one moment, success! I smile and move on.
In each of these instances was I a failure or a success? When you consider this example I failed much more than I succeeded. Hours or even days of failure after failure, then one moment of success. Failing and being a failure are very different things. The first means you made a mistake, the latter means you gave up. Since I never gave up, I claim these moments as a success.
Douglas MacArthur once said, "Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul." My biggest regrets are not the things that I gave up on, but more about the things I set aside, promising myself I would get back to them, and yet I haven't. These things nag at me, calling me a quitter when I don't feel like I am done with them yet.
We have all quit at something. That does not automatically make us failures. As humans, we often try things that interest us and find we have no talent or ability in that area. It is when we work toward something important to us, in an arena where we are capable, and we do not find success, that we ultimately fail. This still does not make us a failure. If we learn from our mistakes, gain knowledge that will help us in our next endeavor, and persist in reaching our goals, all we have done is stumbled along our way to success. "The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure." John C. Maxwell
I truly believe that if you strive for something without fear of failure, whatever you are striving for is worth nothing. As business owners, we can fall into a trap where we create busywork that makes us feel as if we are working toward our goals. If our activity elicits no fear of failure, it is possible that we have fallen into that trap.
Jawaharlal Nehru (Author and the first Prime Minister of India) said, "Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles." Based on this quote, we can only fail if we do not stay true to our guiding principles. As long as we adhere to our ideals we can not fail. If we are persistent while progressing toward our goals and do not allow ourselves to betray our standards of character, failure is not possible. We may face setbacks along the way, but we will never be a failure.
Comedian George Burns once said, "I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate." I am with George on this one. If you have ever done a job you did not like, for any length of time, you probably feel the same way. Isn't that why we do what we do as businessmen and woman? Because it is important to us? Otherwise, what is the point? Long hours, constant challenge, variable income, nagging boss (Us), and that chance of failure is still there. Other than rare instances, why would we risk failure for something we don't even like?
Perhaps that is the trade-off, if we want to accomplish something of worth or importance, we must first be willing to fail. To reach our goals or fulfill our dreams we must have the courage to fall, sometimes over and over again, get back to our feet and plod forward. Theodore Roosevelt probably said it best, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”