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Am I Fearing Failure…or Success?


It could be one or the other or both!

No one is invincible to failure!  In The Pathfinder Career System assessment which I facilitate, one of the traits we capture is “Self Fulfilment” or the degree to which we’re not afraid to act because of fear of failure. 

  • Pessimists tend to focus on what could go wrong (everything!);  the more they look at their half empty glass, the more impossible the situation seems even when it may not actually be that bad  
  • Optimists tend to approach every challenge with a “I won’t let this beat me!” attitude.  They’re more likely to:  recall good solutions to past problems, be open to constructive feedback (not take it personally) and take some calculated risks

Denis Waitley says “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker.  Failure is delay, not defeat.  It’s a temporary detour, not a dead end.  Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing”.

Fear of success is different than fear of failure.  Pathfinder also captures “Self Realization”, the degree to which we  actively seek achievement.  For some people, the closer they get to success, the more ambivalent they become;  they may even sabotage their efforts.  Why would they do that? 

  • Their Drive to get to the top and be the best may not be strong;  they settle for easier challenges
  • Career may not be high in their range of lifestyle priorities;  they’re not so willing to sacrifice, say, relaxation time for work demands (e.g. on-going professional development, long work weeks) 
  • Their Confidence may be low;  they tend to second guess their abilities
  • They may be hanging on to Erroneous Beliefs (labels or outdated values) that family, teachers and/or the church have assigned in the past;  they have yet to flick those gremlins from their shoulders   
  • They may have already achieved more than they ever planned or thought possible;  their desire to realize more than “enough” is reduced or stops altogether   

But…they may also  be frustrated by not living up to their own potential and seeing others achieving more.

Neal Donald Walsch says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone“.

It’s our choice to challenge ourselves and be all that we can be.  In December, 2012 I blogged about Brett Wilson’s “Redefining Success:  still making mistakes”.  He’s an excellent “how to” role model!