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Is Fear of Failure holding you back from your next Career Move?

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Is Fear of Failure holding you back from your next Career Move?

Failure is not a word we all like. For the majority, the very word brings up negative emotions of embarrassment, humiliation and an association with punishment. It’s almost as if we have been brainwashed by society and the media to think that anything but perfectionism will do.

Fear of Failure is a key barrier that clients have when it comes to making career choices or making a career change. Sometimes it stems from past teachers telling you were no good at this or that, perhaps parents having high expectations for their ideal career for you or maybe it’s making mistakes in a past job that was clearly not suited to your particular strengths.

If you are serious about moving forward with any career choice, it’s time to challenge and change your thinking about failure.

Failure is not a dirty word, its part of life. If we are not making mistakes and failing on a regular basis we are not exposing ourselves to an opportunity to learn new things. Isn’t life meant to be about exploring, experimenting and learning! What ends up happening is we become adverse to taking risks and never come close to doing what we truly want to do. If you feel scared of failing you may be missing valuable sign posts on the road to success.

So what does failure teach us?

1. It’s your Feedback Buddy. So what you make a mistake, ask yourself ‘what can I take from the experience’. What did you learn from the mistake that will give you better focus next time. Be open to look for the lesson in every negative situation and I guarantee you the feedback you will receive will put you in good stead for another attempt or perhaps a better informed attempt.

2. Improves your Career Decision Making Skills. Life is full of decision making. Given the fact that you may have as many as 5 different careers over your life time, having sound decision making skills are a necessity and what better way to learn to fine tune them than from your failures and mistakes.

3. Improves your Resource Management. Your time, energy and motivation are all important resources that you own and can deploy at any moment throughout your career. Making mistakes allows you to see where you need to spend more or less time learning and forces you to question whether you are fully motivated to want to spend the energy pursuing a particular goal.

4. Keeps your Ego in check. When we fail, the biggest lesson we learn is humility. When I worked at a well-known radio station I witnessed DJ’s come and go. Their performances would be subjected to constant ratings reviews which determined whether they kept their ‘gig’ or not. Failure to achieve particular radio ratings would have management show the DJ the door very quickly. It’s a reminder to all of us that we are only as good as our last ‘gig’.

Today’s workplace is forcing us to be grounded and not get ahead of our own self-importance. With redundancies and changes taking place constantly, there is no room for Ego. When we live with less Ego, finding meaning and purpose in our work comes more easily.

5. Your Career Opportunities increase. When we have failures, one door closes and many more open. If you are a school student aiming for a particular ATAR but fail to achieve it, you may be forced to look beyond the career options you first considered. It allows you to dig deeper and possibly find a career that would be more fulfilling than you first would have thought. If you are an adult who has been made redundant, looking beyond what you know to be your only career options may lead you to learn new skills, meet new people and open the door to many more career opportunities than you first thought after they handed you the redundancy cheque.

I found this video titled “Why Do We Fall” which I absolutely love because it gives you a fast reality check on how we all can fail. It encourages us as individuals to dig deeper and keep persisting regardless of the obstacles we think we can’t break through. So if you are paralysed by fear of failure, take note of a quote from the video “you have to believe that something different can happen”. So grab yourself a coffee or tea and be inspired for the next 6:13 minutes.

While we don’t strive to fail, remember to not take failure personally and use it as a learning opportunity. If you see the value in failure, pay less attention to how other people react to your failures and persist, success is yours for the taking.