“I’m afraid I’ll fail.”
Every one of my clients has said this to me at some point. It’s a common theme that keeps us from venturing beyond our comfort zones.
It’s why we play it small. Stay safe. Keep quiet. It’s why we don’t go for the big promotion. It’s why we don’t try something new. It’s why we let opportunities slip through our fingers right in front of our eyes.
It all boils down to the fear of failure, the thought that maybe we’re not going to succeed. It holds us back from going after what we really want. From embracing who we really are.
Here’s my take on it. You either succeed or you learn. There’s no such thing as failure. Failing, in my opinion, is staying stuck and not even giving it a shot.
Dr. Carol Dweck, famed American Psychologist, invented the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” to explain how people view their abilities. Fixed mindset people think their skills and talents are set in stone, unchangeable. They fear failure because it threatens these fixed traits. If things don’t go their way, the failure feels permanent.
On the flip side, those with a growth mindset believe skills can evolve and grow through persistence and effort. Challenges? Bring ’em on! They’re opportunities to learn and stretch beyond our current limits. What might seem like failure to someone with a fixed mindset is a chance for a growth mindset person to tweak things for a better outcome next time.
With a growth mindset, anything is possible. You’re constantly learning. When things don’t go as planned, you give it another shot. You may pivot. You consider when it’s time to change course. Each step is an opportunity to get closer to where you want to be.
Sure, being scared of failure is normal, especially when you’re doing something new or daring. But can you feel the fear and still summon the courage to go for it, knowing each attempt is a chance to learn and grow?
In next week’s blog, I’ll share how to embrace a growth mindset.