Of course, we are not concerned here with the fear of being hit by a moving car or the fear of being mugged in a dark alley. Our interest is in the kind of fear that paralyzes people into inaction and the kind of fear that makes people stay in a painful situation that they can extract themselves from. It’s the kind of fear that retards personal growth and boxes one in and shackles people.
We are talking about fear of being hurt emotionally and fear of failure.
We have to understand a few things about failure and fear of failure. People act with conviction when they are confident of success and when there is possibility of failure; most do not act as they should. They fold up and fail to act or avoid acting.
We have to understand that success does not make us and failure does not break us. Recall that success is something we experience, perhaps as a result of hard work, good strategy or even good genes. But success should not make us who we are. We should choose who we are. The outcome of your actions should not be the only measure of success. You are a success if you try, not just because you succeed. If we let success define us, we are likely to be destroyed by failure. Because when success validates us, failure is seen as a loss of identity or even death of the person because we end up tying the purpose of our lives to achievement of success. Recall that if something brings you up, it can also bring you down. Accept failure with the same measure of objectivity as you do success. Failure will only break us if we allow it to break us. The saying goes that failure is not falling down: it is staying down. Remember that failure is just an opportunity to get it right next time. So it is a learning opportunity. And learning never stops. We have to understand that failure is an event, not a person. It does not remember and it cannot actively seek you. You are part of the event and are responsible but you are not the event. You are still intact and fundamentally sound. Uncouple yourself from the event. Once you understand that whereas you are responsible for an event, you are not the event, you will have the courage to act, knowing that you will outlive failure. Once you understand that failure builds you and does not diminish you, you can overcome your fears.
We will explore this subject further in the next installment
August 29, 2008