Fear of Failure?

Refused to accept failureWe all want to be successful, whether it’s in business, raising kids, or marriage.  We often hesitate to do something if we’re not sure it’s the “right” thing to do, because we equate unsuccessful attempts with failure.

When you equate unsuccessful attempts with failure, then you play it safe. You shy way from trying new and different things so as to not fail. The end result is that your life and your options become more constricted and you become less free.

Is attempting something and being unsuccessful at it really the same as failing? Not really. Being successful doesn’t mean that everything you try will work. Being successful means that when you try something and it doesn’t work, you realize you can look at it as a lesson not a loss. You can see that thing that didn’t work as an experiment from which you can learn, rather than a failure.

Before Thomas Edison figured out how to create the light bulb, he was quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison knew that each attempt that didn’t work, gave him more understanding and brought him that much closer to finding something that would work.”

We need more of that attitude. If we could see challenges more as experiments from which to learn, rather than risk from which we could fail, our life would be more fruitful and productive. Why? Because…

  • Failures are personal while experiments or not.
  • Failures are stop signs while experiments are stoplights that eventually change.
  • Failures are about losing while experiments are about learning
  • Failures set us back while experiments move us forward.
  • Failure is a tombstone while experiment is a steppingstone.
  • Failure says, “I better not” while experiment says, “Why not?”
  • Failure avoid mistakes while experiment embraces mistakes.
  • Failure leads people to cave while experiment leads people to continue.

Now when I suggest that we need to approach more things as experiments, I’m not suggesting we approach things haphazardly or irresponsibly. For instance, I’m not saying that you should approach getting married by saying, “Oh well. If it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal. It was just an experiment.” That would be seriously irresponsible. Despite the things that didn’t work, Edison was committed to the lightbulb, so he continued to experiment in order to make things better. In the same way, learning to live out a  marriage commitment can involve some trial and error, but from that we can learn to improve and increase our commitment to our spouse.

What about you? Is your approach to life more about avoiding the fear of failure or finding the fun of experiment? Do you try new things in hopes of improvement, or do you keep the status quo in fear of failure? Remember…not as many things in life are as life-and-death as they feel.

Let’s look at this on another level…

Lest you think God is a promoter of the status quo, listen to the words of God in Isaiah 43:19“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Not only does God promote new things, He also calls people to step out in faith and to try something new and different…even if it doesn’t go as well as they would have hoped. Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water. Peter did, and though he didn’t make it all the way to Jesus, he still walked on water!

God can help you overcome your fear of failure. He can lead you to experiment with new behaviors and try new approaches.  He’s just waiting on you.

Do you have a story of a time you let fear of failure hold you back? Do you have a story of a time when you experimented and tried something despite your fear of failure? Either way, leave a comment and tell us your story. It can be helpful to others.

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

2 thoughts on “Fear of Failure?”

  1. As someone who already went through 1 divorce and has serious trust issues, the thought of entering another relationship and ultimately marriage was scary. I feared failure again. I took the steps forward and it has been a good marriage.

    • A strong example of moving beyond the fear of failure. Think of all you would have missed if you had let fear of failure make the call. Thanks for sharing.


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