Be honest. What are you scared of? Heights? The dark? Commitment? Public speaking? Spiders? What about failure?
Many people don’t want to admit it, but the fear of failure is one of the most common human fears. Why? Because as kids we are taught how important it is to succeed. Whether it’s in sports, school, or life, we are constantly being placed in situations where our performance is judged and compared to others. Based on our output, we are classified as either “winners” or “losers.” And sooner or later, our successes (or lack thereof) help establish our reputations. So, if winners are glorified and losers are criticized, why even put yourself in a position where you may lose?
BECAUSE FAILURE IS A PART OF SUCCESS.
One of my favorite quotes is by Michael Jordan. Years ago, when asked about all of his accomplishments, he didn’t talk about how hard he worked and how much he studied the game. Instead, this was his response: “In my career, I’ve missed over 9,000 shots. I’ve lost nearly 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”
In life, you will make mistakes, and you will have setbacks. The key is to embrace these moments of adversity instead of running from them.
Sometimes you may have to risk embarrassment and criticism in order to accomplish your goals, but that’s okay! Whatever you do in life, good or bad, people will always have something to say. So you might as well be happy and go after your goals. So what if you fail?! So what if it doesn’t turn out exactly right?! Learn from your experience and keep moving forward. A wise man (Thomas Edison) once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
When I was 17 years old, I withdrew from all of my pre-med classes at Clemson University and drove back home. I told my mom I needed a break from school for a couple of semesters in order to pursue some other huge opportunities. Both of my parents supported me, but I was scared of what everyone else would think. I distinctly remember telling my mom, “I don’t want people to think I just dropped out of school or that I’m not doing anything with my life.” She said, “If you truly feel in your heart that you’re doing the right thing, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.” Literally a couple of months later, I began hosting my own TV talk show (which received rave reviews), I gave motivational speeches all over the country, and I wrote a screenplay that was eventually turned into a movie.
While all of these great things were happening in my life, I also sadly learned that I had a breast tumor that required me to have surgery and undergo a lumpectomy. Fortunately, I was able to use my time off from school to not only begin building a great business, but I was also able to spend time at home and recover from my surgery. A few months before, I was so scared about what everyone would think about my decision, but taking time off from school ended up being one of the best choices that I could have made!
In case you’re wondering, yes I did go back to school. After a little over a year, I made the decision to change my major to Communications Studies and complete my degree in two semesters. In addition, the tests showed my tumor was benign, so there was no other therapy I needed after surgery. But what if I was so worried about everyone else that I didn’t follow my heart? What if I was so scared of failure that I stayed in my pre-med classes and took the “safe” route to medical school? My life would probably be a lot different than it is now. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be writing this Wednesday Wisdom. 🙂
Stop fearing the inevitable! Adversity will come. People will criticize you. You will feel uncomfortable. But the sooner you get started on your journey, the sooner you can start to reap the benefits of your hard work. Always remember this: Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
Have a great rest of the week!