Most people would feel fine admitting that they have a fear of failure. It’s natural. Fewer would admit to having a fear of success, though. Both having a fear of failure and a fear of success come from us being too worried about what other people think about us.
You can speak either from your strengths or from your struggles. When someone speaks from their strengths, you might be impressed by how great they are, but you probably won’t like them well enough to ask them out to lunch.
Typically, you respect someone when they speak from their struggles. They are open about places where they’ve failed. When someone has identified their struggles and shares them with others, it builds a connection. There are people in that very room sharing the same struggle. It’s an honest way to talk about where you’ve been and where you’re going.
Speaking from your struggles opens up the way for respect and communication. It creates a welcoming environment that reminds me of a quote I read recently: “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.”
The reason that kind of environment matters is that everywhere else in the world, you’ll probably be criticized, fairly or not. Elbert Hubbard wrote, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” And that’s not really any way to live.
In Gay Hendricks’s book, The Big Leap, he talks about the Upper Limit Challenge. What that boils down to is the idea that we are afraid of failing, but we’re also afraid of succeeding, so we will self-sabotage sometimes.
We think, what if I succeed? Will people figure out I don’t have it all together? Will I be able to keep it up?
The reason we’re afraid of both success and failure is the fear of criticism from others. Whether someone thinks you’re terrible or amazing, both things can scare the snot out of you.
That shouldn’t keep you from trying, but remind you that everyone else has those questions too. And even when you aren’t perfect, it’s still worth your time to try. It’s like when I golf. If I golf 90 strokes, and 75 of them are terrible, that leaves 15 strokes that make me want to come back next week. Hopefully those 15 will become 20, and that’s how we grow.
Strive for success, and remember that when you speak out of your struggles it doesn’t undermine your success. It just helps other people dream of success too.