Monday, June 20, 2011

4 Ways to Overcome Fear of Failure

Fear of failure can lead to incompetence, procrastination and loss of confidence. But an ability to face it and learn new skills and develop new capabilities can effectively handle this fear. Read the ways celebrities manage their fears successfully.

Ways to handle fear

Recognise Fears
All great leaders and athletes raise their level of awareness about fears and failures. If one doesn't understand the presence of fear then it's difficult to manage. Be aware when the fear crops up, notice your reactions, see your emotions and bodily reactions and you'll soon make a choice to manage it one way or another. But not being aware could no chance to overcome it. Michael Jordan, the iconic basketball player once said, “There was never any fear for me, no fear of failure. If I miss a shot, so what?” He was able to recognize his fears and acknowledge them as something normal and not to be worried about. Hours and hours of practice to shoot despite failures to basket, is how he did it. Fear is an obstacle for some people, but it is an illusion to me, explained Michael Jordan, when asked how he overcomes fears of failure.

Accept and Face Failure
This is the first step to overcoming the fear of failure. Remember, everyone fails Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, all failed several times. But they overcame it several ways. The first being playing back their lost matches over and over again till it numbs them and their mind no longer reacts emotionally to the failure. But essentially, their coaches make players understand that they have to accept failures by meeting them squarely in the eye.

Great leaders have no fear of failure and this emboldens them in the pursuit of success. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg prepares for a fight with failure by standing by the courage of his convictions whether it’s about improving city schools, the high crime rate of better infrastructure facilities. He did that successfully by holding himself accountable for all his actions.

Getting back at failure
Another way to handle fear is to fail several times until you begin to taste success. Several years ago I went on a corporate outbound program and one of the activities was rappelling. It means one had to climb down a huge rock facing the rock. When our group went there, on seeing the rock there was a sense of nervousness in the air. Many were not willing to try it. I volunteered to go early and climbed the rock from behind. On reaching the top, I could sense fear when I looked over. But I conquered by saying I'm going to do it and take fear head on. And I told myself to accept the fear and enjoy the activity. The outcome was that I enjoyed rappelling.

Confront the Fears
If you choose to face the fears and understand why it happens, you are bound to succeed. A sports person who fails at crunch time when he's expected to deliver, may actually be playing back the past occurrence of a failure. The only way, athletes and others like can overcome this failure is to look at past failures closely and go through the bad feelings AGAIN and AGAIN. They play the tapes from the past matches and sit through it multiple times and relive the moments. That way there's nothing more to be ashamed of the failure or fear the next failure. You become prepared to face failure and then SUCCESS will soon follow.

Jack Welch the celebrated business leader and CEO of General Electric Company also faced fears in his life. Unbelievably, he was once afraid of the internet since he could not type. Often he was confronted by tough situations in his corporate career, he managed that by putting people first, empowering them and taking risks. “Willingness to change is strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while,” he said of a strategy to mange uncertainty and fear of new ideas.

What is Fear
Fear could be described as a feeling of unpleasantness, and it may or may not be accompanied by external bodily reactions like a racing pulse, flushed face or in rare cases frozen activity, especially when seized by fear. Our stomach churns our muscles become taut and our throats are stuffed with cotton. These are common, universal and there are several ways to manage and control them.
Why do You Fear Failures

Uncertainty about the future
Often there’s a feeling of uncertainty about the future that results in a crippling of thought. This could be fueled by past failure, things not working your way, inability to manage finances or personal issues, loss of confidence to turn around a bad period etc.

Incompetence
Sometimes people feel inadequately equipped to deal with emotions during a broken relationship, feel a sense of loss when new challenges are thrown at work, and struggle to deal with new situations with calmness. These fears of failure arise out of incompetence. The more the fear of failure the higher the rate of procrastination.

Matter of perception
Often it’s just a matter of perception of events, people and things that bring about the fear of failure. Do we focus on our past failures and drag us current attempts to failure. Or choose to focus on our successes and feel capable to succeed in the current endeavor. When a pebble is held away from our eye, it looks small. The same pebble when brought very close to the eye seems to cover the whole world and make you blind. It’s just how you see it.

Some common fears
Fear of Rejection
When we experience a few rejections, there begins to form a pattern in our weak minds that we're destined to failure in that particular activity how many ever times we try it. It could be being rejected by girls to date, writers articles being rejected by newspaper editors, children not being approved by parents..

Anxieties
This is again a sense of unpleasantness that overcomes a person. People tend to break into sweat, tremble, experience stomach churns, racy heart and tend to sometimes avoid the event. It may be related to past events like bullying at school, bad teens, broken relationships. These breed a sense of incompetence while dealing with similar situations in future.

Phobias
Fear of specific events or objects can often cause uncontrollable reaction and lead to panic. This fear results in externalized body reactions.

What Happens if Fears are not Handled Properly
If you don’t seize fear by its tail and manage it well, you could become incompetent in the long run due to repeated inaction; you could begin to procrastinate doing important things due to fear of failure; your future becomes uncertain and your confidence could spiral downwards.

Rajasekar Raju KS