Do you hate the thought of failure?
You’re not alone if you do. We all want to win in life. But unfortunately, experiencing failure is an important part of reaching our goals.
You may curse your fear and worry that it is holding you back.
But the good news is, it might not be all bad.
There are some instances when it could be doing you a favor in the long run.
Here are 7 reasons why your fear of failure could actually be preparing you for success.
1) It’s wise to look before you leap
Have you heard the saying that only fools rush in?
Well, it’s true.
Being fearless certainly doesn’t make you brave beyond belief. In fact, it may well mean you are delusional.
Because all of our decisions and plans have upsides and downsides.
There are things to be won, and potentially some things to be lost too.
Refusing to acknowledge that can lead to rash decisions.
Fear can be a useful voice of reason when we use it proportionately.
It gives us pause for thought before embarking on a course of action.
Let’s not forget that fear is an instinctive emotion that’s designed to keep you safe. Meaning it has its uses when we know how to use it correctly.
2) It shows you care
First and foremost let’s get one thing straight:
Being afraid is not a bad thing in itself. In fact, in some respects, it’s a good sign.
We’re only afraid to fail when something matters to us.
Think about it:
You’re not bothered about flunking a test if you couldn’t give a damn about the results.
So the fact that you are nervous highlights that this matters to you.
The good news is that if you care, you are far more likely to:
- Hold yourself accountable
- Be diligent in your actions
- Demand high standards
All of these are vital ingredients when it comes to success.
The key is to drop perfectionism. That never does you any good.
When we hold ourselves to impossible standards (rather than high ones) we set ourselves up to fail.
We let overwhelm and procrastination seep in because we then become too afraid to even make a start.
3) It can make you work even harder
Nobody likes fear, that’s obvious. But even if it doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t mean it can’t be useful.
The reality is that fear can be a really strong motivator.
You’ve heard of the metaphorical carrot and stick. Well, fear is the stick that can drive us on.
Research has shown that people who suffer from imposter syndrome in the workplace can use it to their advantage.
Even though imposter syndrome makes us feel not good enough and makes us worry about failing, it can have its benefits, as pointed out by researcher Basima Tewfik:
“While having imposter thoughts does elicit fear—which can cause people to flub what they’re working on—it can also be a motivator. That motivation can be a good thing for job mastery.”
Whenever we are scared we won’t make the grade, it can encourage us to work even harder to prove ourselves.
We just need to channel that fear into something constructive, as we’ll see next.
4) It can make you better prepared by sharpening your organizational skills
What’s more constructive than taking appropriate action.
My mom is a total worrier.
I’ll be honest, she’s too much of a worrier and it spills into anxiety. That’s never good.
But I have to admit, one consequence of her frequent stressing does have a useful knock-on effect:
She’s super organized (and she has passed this habit on to me).
Because she is always concerning herself with what could go wrong, she’s also preparing for it and trying to avoid it.
That means leaving nothing to chance. Instead, she gets things sorted.
- Doing the research
- Considering the best course of action
- Looking for solutions to problems that may arise
When we feel nervous about something, the best way to get back in the driving seat is to focus on what we can control (rather than what we can’t).
But it’s often our fear that draws our attention to this in the first place so that we don’t blindly overlook significant details.
5) You’re less naive about what it takes
It’s an inevitable part of the journey of life.
Enthusiasm and optimism are useful partners when you want to get results.
Cultivating a positive mindset undoubtedly can help to strengthen your resolve and resilience.
But you also need to have your feet on the ground too.
If you’re foolhardy and expect everything to be a walk in the park, you’re likely to get quite a shock.
It all goes back to that preparedness again.
Whilst organizing offers practical preparation, this is more about mental preparation.
You’re not naive that things can go wrong. So when they do, you are less likely to be totally shell-shocked by them.
Just as long as you don’t let your fear of failure push you into pessimism, it can help you to stay realistic in your expectations.
And that’s really useful when you are working towards something and dealing with unavoidable challenges along the way.
6) You’re more likely to seek support
“What could go wrong?!”
“No sweat, I got this”
This sort of sentiment can be expressed by people who don’t feel nervous about the outcome of things.
But as they say:
Pride comes before the fall.
Overconfidence can set us up for failure, as we’ll dive into in more detail next.
On the other hand, collaboration and cooperation can improve our chances of success.
If you’re worried about getting it wrong or making an error, you are more likely to:
- Be willing to learn from others
- Ask for help when you need it
- Take expert advice
7) Overconfidence is linked to a decrease in skill and competency
We’re always told about how key confidence is when it comes to success.
It certainly seems that way too. But here is a cautionary tale:
Confidence is one thing, but overconfidence is quite another.
Having self-belief can give you the encouragement to push yourself. However, overestimating your abilities is incredibly detrimental and leads to greater mistakes.
What’s more, research has found that overconfident people tend to overestimate the accuracy of their judgments and decisions.
It’s called the Dunning–Kruger effect, named after the researchers who first noted it.
They found that the people who felt most sure of themselves were often the least competent.
For example, those who thought they were the best drivers were actually the worst.
The researchers summed it up like this:
“Those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.”
So having that questioning voice in the back of your head might well mean you are more capable rather than less.
So there it is, a healthy fear of failure isn’t a bad thing.
We can incorrectly think that everyone else is much braver than we are.
But here’s the real truth:
It’s okay to be scared when we try something new or go after our ambitions. It’s perfectly normal.
So when does our fear of failure shift into an obstacle that will hold us back
When it paralyzes us and keeps us stuck.
We have to learn to be able to distinguish between a sensible dose of caution and uncertainty and the crippling fear that stops us from progressing in life.
If your fear prevents you from taking chances and keeps you in your comfort zone, it may have got the better of you.
In that case, it’s important to confront and question your fear so that it doesn’t rule your life.