After training and coaching over 500,000 people in 7 countries, I have found that the most common factor that stops people from daring to dream, making the necessary commitments and taking action is the fear they have of failure.
Whenever I inspire people to go for their dreams, their minds are immediately programmed to focus on the idea, ‘But…what if I fail?’ The fear that follows distinguishes whatever inspiration and motivation they had inside. I always like to ask people this question instead, ‘What if you succeed?’
If you have the fear of failure, you are not alone. Everyone fears failure, from Presidents to athletes. From entrepreneurs to students. I can tell you that after delivering countless of seminars around the world to so many people, I still feel the fear before I go on stage. One of my mentors once told me that the day I have no more fear, is the day I no longer care or the day I am dead.
There is nothing wrong with having fear. Fear is an emotional response given to us by our creator for a specific purpose. When you learn to use it, fear heightens your senses, increases your focus and drives you to become even better prepared.
For example, the fear of not being able to deliver my very best to my students drives me to prepare and rehearse my seminars until it becomes excellent. Fear drives me to continuously get feedback and innovate to improve my programs even more each time.
What you must ensure is to never let fear paralyze you and stop you from taking action. That was never the intention of fear. Fear was never meant to limit us but to serve us.
From my experience and observation, the most successful people in the world fear failure as much as anyone else. So, how come they dare to dream big and take action to make their dreams happen. The reason is because they DEFINE failure very differently from the majority.
Many people define failure as NOT achieving their goals. They believe that if they set a goal and do not get there the first time, it means they have FAILED. The fact is that in life, we never ever achieve our goals the first time we go for it (I never have as well). So, if you define failure this way, then you are going to experience failure all the time. If you define failure this way, then you will never dare to set any kind of goal or to take any action. You have completely sabotaged yourself.
Successful people, on the other hand, DEFINE failure differently. They believe that when they set a goal and don’t reach it, they have NOT failed. They have gotten a LEARNING EXPERIENCE and are even closer to success. THey believe that they only fail when they give up. As long as they don’t quit and keep learning and moving forward, they have not failed yet!
Successful people also believe that the greatest failure in life is the failure to participate in life. Not even ‘trying’ is the greatest failure of all. If you don’t even give something a shot, that’s the ultimate failure. At least when you take action, you give yourself the opportunity to succeed or to learn something from it. Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all time said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
Here is a quote from J.K Rowling (author of Harry Potter) that I love.
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing in something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have never lived at all. In which case, you failed by default.”
Here is also a quote from Aung San Suu Kyi, The opposition leader from Myanmar that has taught me to never allow fear to hold me prisoner and to have the courage to follow my dreams. In 1990, Aung San’s democratic party won a landslide victory in the Burmese Nation but she was arrested by the ruling Junta and imprisoned for the last 14 years.
Although she could have been released if she decided to give up her political ambition to bring democracy to her country, she has chosen to remain in a physical prison believing that the only real prison is fear. That has long as she has no fear, she has ultimate freedom.
” The Only Real Prison is Fear and the Only Real Freedom is the Freedom from Fear”