Overcoming fear of failure

Curt’s latest topic at Collective Genius is overcoming fear of failure. I posted with several answers to his key questions. Enjoy!

What advice would you give to someone who is stuck because a fear of failing / being wrong / looking stupid is keeping them from taking action?

If you think something is going to make you look stupid – at least temporarily with no long term repercussions for you or for others – I say do it. It’s good for you. That’s how you learn. Heck, I’ve looked stupid thousands of times in my life, and I’m better, stronger and wiser because of it. Looking stupid allows me NOT to take myself, my life and my business so darn seriously. It keeps me real. Keeps me in check. And I think that as long as you don’t make the same mistake twice, you’re all good.

What techniques do you use to help move past that fear?

I once made a list of 50 of the stupidest things I ever did and what I learned from them. Once I read the list back to myself, I thought, “Man, maybe it’s not so bad after all!” This is a great exercise that I recommend to everyone.

How has that fear kept you stuck in the past? How did you move past it?

I once had a fear of watching myself speak on video. I had footage from speeches that I didn’t watch for almost a year! But I found that when I did watch it, I realized, “Hmm…I’m actually a pretty good speaker!” I suppose the way I moved past it was to just bite the bullet and say to myself, “Alright, this is the only way I’m going to get better. Besides, there’s nobody else in the room watching this, so who cares anyway?”

What effect does perfectionism have on that fear? What are some ideas for countering it?

I live by the adage, “Success is not perfection.” In fact, one of my books has 6 typos in it! But I found a way to use those mistakes as marketing tools, in addition to symbolizing my humanness to my readers and audience members.

What ideas do you have to help people learn from failure?

“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” That’s a great quote I live by. Not sure who said it, but I try to fail at one thing a month. I keep a list of my failures and go back to it every once in a while to learn. Also, if I feel like everything’s been going perfectly, I pray for a failure. Seriously. I welcome screw ups into my life and give thanks for every one of them.

What are some alternate perspectives on failing / being wrong / looking stupid?

In the song “Lose Yourself,” Eminem says, “Success is my only mother-f***ing option, failure’s not.”

Great lyric!

What’s your philosophy on failure?

Make a list called My Top Ten Business Failures and What I Learned From Them. Email it to me and I’ll include your list on a future post!

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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