Fear has never motivated me. I’ve been controlled, consumed and held prisoner by it. When I moved to Hollywood, I had everything in the world to fear. I was a stranger in a strange land with no money, friends, safety net or connections. I had no job, car or any earthly possessions. I was starting over at a time in life when most people are kicking back and coasting with the new sports car and trophy wife/husband/lover. As usual, my timing sucked, but this was my last chance to get it together. I knew when I failed (not if), I didn’t have anything to leave behind in Los Angeles when the plane took off for Florida with me on it. Janis Joplin was right, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose!”. I had nothing to lose in L.A. and no reason to return to Jacksonville, Florida to pick up the nothing I left there….
Even today, I wake up afraid. I’m afraid of death and loss and not finding acceptance from people I’ve never really liked or wanted to be like… I still fear the unknown. The difference between now and days passed is I’m no longer living in vodka or prescription bottles trying to escape fear. I am going to fail. That is a reality. So, today I spend probably too much time online seeing how other people are facing the dreaded “F” word… and as usual, I found some information that makes sense to me. If I’m able to step back and take me out of the equation for a few seconds, I can normally work through most problems in my life. Recently, I read an article by Tim Brownson that explained fear in a way I understand… this is what I’ve figured out….
If you’re like me, there’s been MANY times you’ve been afraid to do something, or afraid to take chances, because you were afraid you’re going to fail. What would your childhood self say if he/she saw all the opportunities you missed out on, and all the dreams you gave up on because you weren’t willing to take a chance? But what would your childhood self say if he/she could get a look at the choices you’ve made?
Sometimes playing it safe is the easiest choice in life, but in return, you’re forced to live your life knowing you settle for not truly knowing what was out there, not knowing what you could have done with your life, and, most importantly, not having the chance to learn or grow.
We’ve all had times where we’ve given up on dreams, not gone after something, or not taken a chance, all because we were afraid of that dreaded question:
“What if I fail?”
We Aren’t Meant To Fear Failure
But what about when we were children; we dreamed of perfection, we were ambitious, and we only dreamed big dreams about how we could change the world.
As children, we didn’t even once think about the possibility of failure… we just think about helping others, making people happy, and making amazing ourselves with what we accomplish.
Whether it was learning to walk, swim, ride a bike; whatever.
We went after what we wanted relentlessly, only focusing on our goals and objectives, and on turning the outcomes in our mind into a reality.
We did whatever we had to do, no matter how many obstacles got in our way, to get to the finish
And you know what’s even more amazing?
We ALWAYS accomplished our goals without exception.
Failure Never Even Entered Our Minds
As children, and a trait you’ll find in successful adults, you’ll notice that they build an image in their mind, and focus on pursuing it relentlessly without even paying attention to the obstacles, and every time we experienced a “failure”, we just ignored it, and kept on moving in the direction of the star we were shooting at.
We dreamed of settling for nothing less than the best for ourselves; we didn’t even think of the words “no” or “can’t”, and we just kept moving forward
Why We Began To Fear Failure
Like anything else, we were taught to look at the world a certain way as we grew up.
And for most of us, rather than hearing:
“You learned to walk, swim, ride a bike, and achieve every single goal you set for yourself because you kept going in the face of adversity; failure is just a natural part of learning as you try something you’ve never done before and move toward your goals.”
Most of us hear:
“You failed; that’s automatically something negative; you suffered a bad outcome… failure is something you want to avoid at all costs.”
Most of us only fear failure because someone else taught it to us to.
We learn and grow through our challenges naturally, without even looking at them as “challenges”, but rather “steps” to realizing the images we build in our wonderful imaginations, and we just keep going after our dreams until they’re reality… we don’t even see a loss until someone teaches us to when we’re older; we only see achievement and gain.
Failure Is Critical To Winning
One thing you’ll notice if you study ANYONE who’s become successful is that far more failures always preceded their successes.
All the world’s most successful people have one thing in common:
They never stopped dreaming or focusing on a goal the same way they did when learning to walk, swim, or ride a bike.
And the funny thing is, as we get older, that desire to dream bigger, to imagine achieving something incredible, and to do something great for people stays present in all of us, but it gets squashed by all the crap that gets put into our heads about failure being a bad thing, rather than a learning experience.
Learning To Look At Failure The Right Way
Whether it was James Dyson doing 5,126 failed prototypes before he got it right, Thomas Edison with 10,000 failed attempts to invent the light bulb, or Walt Disney going bankrupt twice before he achieved his first success, none of these great achievements would have changed our world had it not been for failure.
Here is the truth about failure:
Failure = learning.
They are the same thing.
If we, as children, are born with all the tools to dream, imagine, and achieve every goal we set for ourselves, and we learn and grow through our challenges, and we amaze the world with what we’re capable of.
We’ve got hidden skills and talents; all of us… but the only way they’re going to be brought out is if we us this natural formula for success we’re all born with.
And the best part is I don’t even have to teach you anything; you already used this formula to walk and talk, so you just need to use it as an adult; it’s that simple!
Speaking from personal experiences, the most meaningful learning experiences in my life came out of failures.
If I hadn’t failed, I’d still be the same, and I’d never have learned or grew.
I would never have been presented with challenges, and I’d never have shown myself and the world what I was truly capable of.
I’d have never gotten that sense of achievement and self-confidence that only comes from knowing I did something I thought was impossible, all because I had the guts and faith to believe in myself, just like you should in yourself.