No, that title isn’t a typo . . . and don’t run in fear—you HAVE come to the right place. This is definitely going to be a helpful episode of The Art of Extraordinary Confidence, but you should go into it knowing that it is also going to be a realistic one.
The first thing you have to understand about what we’re discussing today is that you are going to fail. Sure, you are also going to succeed and find your confidence and achieve your goals . . . but if you’re doing it right and making rapid progress, you are going to fail on your way there.
Let’s be honest: nobody likes to fail. Nobody likes getting rejected, making mistakes, or feeling awkward.
We all know that discomfort is an undesirable, yet necessary evil in life, and most of us will do anything to avoid it.
And it is precisely that uncompromising aversion to failure that is crippling your confidence.
Think about it: when your only goal is to avoid failure, you live your life paralyzed by fear of rejection and making mistakes. Because of this, your self-esteem evaporates, and you never take the sort of bold action that leads to any kind of success.
When we’re afraid of failure, we refuse to ask people out because we’re afraid of getting rejected; we refuse to speak up in front of our colleagues because they might not like what we have to say; we refuse to tell a joke because we might not get a laugh. Sure, in all of those cases, we haven’t failed . . . but we also haven’t succeeded—we haven’t got a date, we haven’t gotten a promotion, and we haven’t made an impression on a new social circle.
When we live life afraid of failure, we miss out on what we really want.
Now, why am I bringing this up?
Obviously, if you want to achieve anything great in life, you’re going to have to take big risks, right? And anyone who takes big risks is going to fail, right? Everyone knows this, don’t they?
Actually, no—they don’t.
Recently, one of my team members approached me with a concern about what he called an “alarming trend” amongst my subscribers. He noticed that many of the comments contained frustrated sentiments about trying and failing, most of them projecting an attitude of, “WTF?”
This is understandable, and on some level, I blame myself for not bringing it up sooner: regardless of why you wanted to develop your confidence—socializing, romance, work, assertiveness—you are going to fail at least a few times.
You have spent your entire life dealing with some level of social anxiety, and now you’re pulling a complete 180, taking bold action, and making huge transformations in your life—it’s not going to go perfectly at first!
Think about anything new you’ve ever learned:
– Did you go out the first time you played baseball and hit a home run?
– Did you go out and have a fluent conversation the first week you learned a new language in high school?
– Did you swim the butterfly at your first YMCA guppies class?
You struck out, pronounced words incorrectly, and struggled through the doggie paddle, because that’s what we do when we’re learning: we fall down . . . but we get back up.
Facing the thing that has terrified you for decades is tough business, and you’re going to make mistakes at it. People aren’t going to just start throwing themselves at you because you’re suddenly taking actions that you didn’t take before (if they are, though, good for you!).
Of course, when we make huge changes, we expect huge results—and they will come . . . eventually.
What you don’t want to do is let yourself become consumed by despair or helplessness or frustration. If you’re still new to this, you’re going to have to try a bunch of times before it starts to click for you. That’s just the honest truth.
You don’t need to be smarter or smoother or luckier for this to work out, so stop telling yourself that.
There is nothing wrong with you, so please let go of the old stories you’ve created in your head that say that everything should always go perfectly.
No matter how amazing you are—no matter how suave, good-looking, or cool you are—you are going to get rejected, fail, and make mistakes.
Everyone has an “off” day once in a while. Even the best possible version of you—the version of you who exists five years from now and has completely absorbed every part of this work and has developed incredible self-confidence—will say stupid things, have unproductive days, and tell a joke that no one laughs at every now and then.
The only difference will be that the future you won’t let it ruin his entire week; he won’t assume that it makes him less worthy; he won’t be held hostage by the fear of failure.
In order to achieve the things we want in life, we need to accept that failure is a part of the process and move toward it without trepidation. We need to be willing to fail over and over (and over!) again. Don’t stop at just one failure—anticipate it, learn from it, and do it again. It’s not enough to know this stuff: you must also live it.
The more action you take, the more exposure you’ll receive—not only to failure, but also to the fear that’s holding you back from reaching your potential.
Eventually, that fear won’t even enter your psyche because you will fully understand that failure is not hurting you—it’s helping you learn, advance, and accomplish your life’s biggest goals.
Please share your thoughts on this episode in the comments below. What’s resonating with you? How has fear of failure affected your progress, and what are you doing to let that fear go? What is working well for you? We really do learn from our peers’ experiences here, so offer up your wisdom on this topic, and help your fellow readers grow!
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are, and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.