Our own fear of failure is one of the strongest forces working against us when we are trying to achieve great things. The fact is we all have fears. You cannot avoid them. However, you CAN control them. Here are some ways that have worked well for myself and others I know:
1. Always understand your alternatives: Knowing what could happen when you set out to achieve something and planning ahead for the possibilities – both positive and negative – will make every move you make less scary. Play things out from all angles and you will move with confidence knowing you have a plan if things do not go exactly as expected. There is more than one path to success, and sometimes you need to take a path that you didn’t expect. Anticipate the alternative paths. Plan for them. This allows you to manage the fear of the unexpected.
2. Have a worst case scenario you can live with: Think about and understand your worst case scenario. For example, back in the late 1990’s when I was developing a high risk tech start-up, I used to tell myself (and my wife!) that the worst thing that could happen was I would need to go get a job. I could live with that, and it kept me boldly moving forward. Knowing you can live with the consequences of failure – at its worst – will also help to keep your fear in check.
3. Associate with people who also have control of their fear: If you can hang around people who also have learned to control their fear, it will help you to put your own fear into perspective and improve your ability to control it. You really need to avoid negative thinkers and naysayers. They only add to your fear. Instead, hang around people who also believe in themselves and are working on their own paths to success. Knowing you are not alone will also give you the confidence to control your fear.
4. School yourself: If you are afraid of something, learn about it. Most of our fear comes from the fear of the unknown. The more we can study what we’re afraid of, the less we will fear it. Try this with anything you fear. It really works. For example, if you are afraid of starting a new business, talk with entrepreneurs and study lessons from those who have been successful doing what you want to do. That knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence lowers your fear.