Imagine a 10-month-old pulled themselves to a standing position, took a step, fell over and thought: “Apparently, I’m rubbish at this walking thing. I’ll just leave it to those who are better at it.” Haha!
Actually, we learn how to walk by trying and failing, until we don’t fall as much and finally, hardly at all. Fast-forward to adulthood, and we’re suddenly anxious to do everything right and never fail at anything, ever.
This is crippling our success and our joy. Your mission today is to find out why this happens, and how to normalise failure to become much happier.
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Task 1: Why we are afraid to fail
As stated above, kids have no trouble being crap at something. So when do we learn to be ashamed of mistakes? Answer: in school.
Our educational system is built on punishing mistakes. Think of every quiz that has ever been graded: It had every mistake marked with red ink, and the number of mistakes determined the score at the bottom! Is it any wonder we’re terrified of failure?
Task 2: Failure isn’t permanent
We all know that failure isn’t permanent, but what we think isn’t what makes us anxious. The fear of failure is deep inside our subconscious mind and usually comes from our school years.
It take persistence to overcome this. Here are 3 ways to get started:
- Give yourself permission to fail. Next time you do something wrong, take a deep breath and say “it’s ok.” Stop yelling at yourself.
- Consciously seek out something you suck at. Many don’t pursue a passion because they think they’re not “good enough”. Do something badly and have fun. Be a clumsy beginner.
- Create safe spaces for failure at work and at home. Encourage people to come clean and see mistakes as opportunities for growth.
These measures take time to show effect, but it’s worth it. You’ll increase your enjoyment of life and your willingness to risk trying something new.