Have you ever been so afraid of failing at something that you decided not to try it at all or again? Subconsciously, you undermined your own efforts to avoid the possibility of a larger failure?
The fear of failing can be immobilizing, it can cause us to do nothing, and therefore resist moving forward. But when we allow fear to stop our forward progress in life, we’re likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.
Failure isn’t holding you back: fear of failure is. We’re conditioned to fear failure, as if lack of failure guarantees success. The reality is that lack of failure equals lack of risk-taking, which is required for meaningful success. Here are a few actions you can take to shake off the doubt:
- 1. Emphasize effort over ability:
One way to encourage effort is to provide specific feedback to students that recognizes and praises effort. Studies have shown that students who receive this kind of feedback are not only more motivated to succeed,
but also believe that they can succeed. However, be careful not to tell students to try harder if they failed, particularly if a lot of effort was expended to succeed. Otherwise, they may begin to doubt their abilities and eventually become failure-avoid-ant or accepting.
- Encourage students to practice self-compassion when they fail:
At the heart of the fear of failure is a push-pull between self-acceptance and being able to see ourselves as we really are.
In other words, rather than making our self-worth contingent on categories such as academic success, appearance, or popularity, we must value ourselves solely for the fact that we are human beings and accept that failure is part of the human experience.
When we do that, it is easier for us to extend compassion to ourselves when we fail. This makes it easier to look realistically at what caused the failure and then consider what can be done to improve next time.
Research has found that people who practice self-compassion recover more quickly from failure and are more likely to try new things—mainly because they know they won’t face a negative barrage of self-talk if they fail.
- Build positive relationships with students:
This is particularly important for students who are failure-avoid-ant or accepting. Research has shown that students are motivated to try their best when teachers to whom they feel attached value academic tasks. Studies have also shown the opposite to be true—that students are less motivated when faced with teachers whom they feel don’t care about them.
Develop the confidence and skills needed to overcome fear and be a leader in today’s marketplace. In order to do this, you need to identify and eliminate bad habits, and replace them with strategies that work.
Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant. When you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the best and most creative solution. The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Get used to it. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity too.
We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work and in life.
Complied By Nayab Naveed