One of the most common questions people ask me is some variation on: How can I overcome fear and take a chance? A caller to my radio show, for example, couldn’t decide whether to take a job in a new city. It was a good job, but it would require him to leave his life-long home. We all fear change and the risks it carries, but I have to say that everything significant I’ve ever experienced has involved change. Our soul wants to expand and grow. When we stay with the familiar, just because it is familiar, we are responding to a fear of failure that doesn’t support our growth.
I suggest you consider a radical idea. What if there is no such thing as failure? Failing is a judgment that we humans place on a given action. Rather than judgment, substitute this attitude: You cannot fail, you can only produce results. Then the most important question to ask yourself is, “What do you do with the results you produce?” It is better to jump in and experience life than to stand on the sidelines fearing that something might go wrong.
Consider for a moment what your original nature is like. As an infant, before you were ever subjected to the conditioning that leads you away from risks for fear of failing, your nature was programmed to learn how to walk. For a while you just laid down, then your nature said, “Sit,” and you did. Then your nature commanded, “Crawl,” and you obeyed. Eventually your nature said, “Stand up on two feet, balance yourself, and move from an upright position.” And you listened.
The first time you made the effort, you fell down and returned to crawling. But your nature wouldn’t let you stay satisfied with crawling and you ignored your fears and the results you had produced and stood up again. Eventually your nature won out and you walked upright. What if you had succeeded in resisting your natural programming? You would still be crawling on all fours and not know the advantages of an upright life!
Know in your heart that you have never failed at anything and you never will. What might be judged as errors or mistakes are the very stuff of growth. Think about Thomas Edison’s response to a reporter who asked him how it felt to have failed twenty-five thousand times in his efforts to invent a battery. “Failed,” replied Edison, “I haven’t failed. Today I know twenty-five thousand ways not to make a battery!”
Refuse to use the term “failure” about yourself or anyone else. When you take a chance and things don’t go as planned, you didn’t fail, you only produced a result. Feel gratitude for the life-enhancing opportunity to learn and grow from those results. Now you are free to resume the exciting, inventive, creative work that is your life.