Fear of Failure in Business
When I was in my early 20’s I started a business. It was a crafty type business and while I did open it, I didn’t tell anyone about it. My husband knew, mostly because I forced him to build me shelves and haul those heavy suckers to and from the craft market once a month. But family and friends weren’t in the know. I was too afraid of failing to let anyone know what I was up to. And eventually, I did fail. I look back and see that it wasn’t necessarily my products that made me fail - they were cute and artsy. It was my lack of marketing. How could anyone buy from me if the only time anyone saw my products was once a month at the poorly attended craft fair?
Logically, I knew that. I knew I needed to reach out to my network of friends and family and have them reach out to their network. But I just couldn’t. I was too afraid. What happened if I failed and they knew I failed? But by giving in to my fear, I set myself up for failure. I couldn’t succeed if I didn’t believe in myself and my products enough to market them and shout to the world that the needed what I offered.
So what happened when I failed? Nothing. What happens now that the whole world (or the internet at least) knows that I failed? Nothing. Nothing changes. And honestly, maybe it was a good thing. I got better. Not at not failing - but at not caring when I do fail. I realized that I can’t live and sell and market in a vacuum. I have to shout it to the world.
So what do you do about fear of failure? How do you get rid of it?
I have absolutely no idea. It’s there every single day. Some days bigger than others when I feel like I’ve gotten in way over my head. Some days when I’ve spent too much time comparing myself to people who have been doing this for decades. But other days, when I’m in my groove and finishing up editing on my newest favorite video, the fear of failure is nowhere to be found.
Because it’s in those moments, the small tiny moments of creation and art, that I realize I don’t care if I fail. I don’t care if no one ever signs up for another video or reads my blog or considers me an expert. What’s the point in caring? What’s the point in worrying? Who cares if anyone else gets my ideas or my creativity or my vision? Sure, I may be broke and living in a cardboard box if no one gets me, but I’ll be a happy creative broke living in a cardboard box.
Some people let the fear of failure propel them towards success. But I don’t want fear to play any part in my business or life.
I have decided to redefine success where failure doesn’t exist. Success is the feeling of completion you get after finishing up a project. Success is the email saying thank you a million times from your latest client. Success is working 20 times on something just to finally get it right on the 21st time. It’s finding all the ways not to do something. It’s saying “screw it” to fear and going for what you want. It’s saying, “I may fail, but if I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail big and have fun doing it.” It’s saying all or nothing to an idea, a feeling, a passion.
Success has nothing to do with money or number of clients or being published or interviewed or anything else that can be measured. It’s a feeling you have inside of yourself. A feeling only you can allow yourself to feel.
I started out my film career making films for my family. I always had this great vision in my head of how it would turn out. But because I was new, didn't have the latest equipment, and pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, I often felt like I failed at making my vision come to life.
But then on a whim during a family trip to the beach, I grabbed my camera as we walked out the door to go crab hunting at night. I had no lights, I had no audio equipment. Just a camera. I let myself enjoy the moment and capture whatever looked good to me. I had no preconceived idea, no plan, and no vision. I just let the creativity roll. I came home and edited the clips and what I created is still my favorite family film. This is the film that proved to me that I was successful. No matter what happens, I am successful.
Yes, there are technical problems, focusing issues, and shoddy audio. Yes, there are so many things that could be improved. But the feeling I wanted to capture, the memories I wanted to get. I got those. I was successful.
There is no place for fear in life or in business. Take the leap. Believe in yourself and don't worry about those who don't believe in you. Define your version of success and don't be held back by others'. Become your own biggest cheerleader and take the world by storm. You are a success.