What Everybody Ought To Know About Fear Of Failure

What Everybody Ought To Know About Fear Of Failure

Man worried about decisions he has to make.

People are often held back or worried about the fear of failing or making a mistake, or getting it wrong. However, there is a more significant crisis waiting to happen if you allow that fear to hold you back, which I would call the “wasteland of indecision”.

A client (let’s call her Jane) asked me to help her figure out the right thing to do with a set of decisions. She wanted to decide whether to keep her current job, focus on working on her business idea or accept the offer to join a friend as co-founder of another business.

She was apprehensive about making the wrong decision and agonized about it for a few months. Have you ever been in this type of situation or had this challenge?

As she described the situation, I could feel her pain; however, what struck me was that the fear had moved her into a state of indecision.

For months, she had not decided, and as with anything, the parameters were changing with time. Hence she was in this loop of perpetual analysis and guilt without making any progress.

Over my career and work with clients, I have discovered indecision is a far more significant issue than making mistakes or “failing”. The wasteland of indecision keeps you trapped, and you lose the only non-replenishable resource, time.

Now I am not saying that the fear of failure or mistake is not a challenge; instead, I am saying embrace the challenge and avoid the wasteland of indecision.

Lady trying to make a decision. Indecision is a dangerous thing.

Avoid the wasteland of Indecision

If you want to avoid the wasteland of indecision, here are three steps you can take:

Adopt a discovery mindset.

Rather than think in terms of right or wrong, start approaching your decisions from a position of discovery.

Based on what you know or want, you should always seek to decide and be open to learning as you move forward to confirm whether it’s the right move or you need to make some adjustments.

You can learn more about the discovery-driven approach from this interview with Rita McGrath, co-author of the book Discovery Driven Growth.

Make decisions.

It is very straightforward. We are always making decisions; the question is whether you are active or passive in the process.

Indecision is a passive decision not to do anything. Hence with your discovery mindset, decide and commit to it long enough to either validate or change it.

Have a bias towards action.

Once you have made a decision, take action in the direction of your decision. It is important because until you act, you haven’t decided. Hence take action and commence your process of discovery.

So what happened with Jane? As we explored her options with a discovery mindset – It was clear that she could keep her job while exploring the startup options.

She also discovered that the co-founder opportunity was not for her because it didn’t fit her values after spending some time on it.

What was the game-changer? She decided with the understanding that it was all about learning and growing. And by moving forward, she was able to make progress. Imagine if she had done these months earlier.

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