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The Power of the Fear of Failure (atychiphobia)




Having a fear of failure can prevent us from achieving great things. It stops us from stepping into the ‘arena’.


We may not want to step into the arena because we may feel COMFORTABLE where we are; WORRY of what people may say if we fail; dent our CREDIBILITY or REPUTATION, and it may seem too much of a RISK…


But, what if it could open up to a new, brighter career, opportunities, relationships, socialisation, improved finances, benefiting you and your team (family)…you get the idea. 


I have personally witnessed this on several occasions, and as examples I’m happy to share some of them:


Whilst in the military I could have been happy with continuing my career in the Light Infantry, but I had a turning point in my life to volunteer and attempt SAS selection, where the chance of failing is extremely high. In fact a lot of the guys who were ‘top blokes’ from my unit returned having failed to be selected. But at least they put themselves forward. But this for me was a shock, and created a fear of failure… But, you never know unless you give it a go… So, I prepared hard both physically and mentally, setting mini goals to reach the BIG goal. I put myself in that arena, volunteering (something you don’t really do in the military). I was both ‘lucky’ and had put in the hard yards to be one of the few to be successful.


During this exciting career, I was given an opportunity to put myself forward to go on an expedition to the Geographic South Pole in the footsteps of Captain Scott. I could have just ignored this and continued with my Special Forces career… But, I felt a need to put my head above the parapet, volunteering and preparing hard again to venture into another type of challenging arena. This time as a team we made it! 


Five years later, I was planning, preparing and executing an expedition to the Geographic North Pole, as well as juggling my busy work life, where the fear of failure was high, and I could again have simply ignored this. But, I put myself and volunteered to venture again into another arena….arguably it didn’t go to ‘Plan’, but at least we tried as a team. The odds of failure were extremely high, and we could have called it a day, failing without even trying… Worth a read my book ‘Plan D’! 


Finally, after 35 years military service, 22 years with SF, I could have put my feet up, or followed the usual route and pathway for most leaving the services - but, I didn’t and decided to go it alone, setting up my own business in arguably one of the most difficult and challenging eras in history. After leading a discreet career, then stepping into what is an alien world of business… where the stakes of FAlLURE are high and costly for me and my family. But, again I am using the power of Fear of Failure to drive me forward, something I’m still working on today.


I have many other examples with my academic challenges, learning to be a paramedic… you get the idea. 


In fact the power of the Fear of Failure has driven me to push on in motivating me even in the most difficult and extreme times. I was simply not going to give in and FAIL. I simply reversed the negativities of the Fear of Failure to a positive coping strategy.


So, when you think you can’t do it, you’re scared to step into the arena for whatever reason due to the Fear of Failure think again as it might just open some exciting avenues in your life. Use it to drive you forward, not to stagnate or procrastinate. You never know you may achieve some great things.


Then again if you do fail in what you set out to do, at least you tried and learnt. Hopefully picking yourself back up to maybe try again, or take another route to success… Don’t be scared, you might just be surprised! 


Give it a go and stay strong. 


Please feel free to share your comments on this as I’d love to hear any examples of the fear of failure as it might just help someone…

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