3 Ways I Overcame My Fear of Failure
November is Canada Career Month. This year, the theme is it’s possible. This month, CPC’s News Feed has been featuring a series of posts that builds on that theme. We believe it’s possible to create a bright future. New CPC member Ramona Karimi tells us how she’s creating a bright future for herself — she not only overcame her fear of failure, but embraces each new failure as an opportunity for learning and growth.
Failure was something I ran away from my entire life. Even in early childhood, I would not even consider trying to complete a task if I knew the outcome would not be perfect and there was a chance of failing. A nagging voice in my head constantly pushed me away from pursuing activities that I was not exceptional at, preventing me from receiving valuable learning experiences early on in my life.
It was at a parent-teacher conference in elementary school that I received feedback about being too much of a perfectionist; I was forever asking my teacher what steps to take to complete a task perfectly, instead of learning from trial and error. That feedback was my turning point. To enrich our lives and develop our careers, I now know that learning to cope with failure is a must. Here are the 3 ways I pushed myself to overcome my fear of failure:
1) I Changed My Mindset
We can often be our own worst critics and this can cause a fear of going out of our comfort zones in case there is a chance we may fail. I had to realize that the act of failing does not mean that I am a failure. Failing means that I am pushing myself and learning from new experiences, so, if anything, failure makes me a more successful person in the long run. I’m more successful because I take in feedback, reflect on how I can do better next time, and try again.
If you have a negative mindset, you cannot expect to thrive in your career. While it is much easier said than done to completely revamp your feelings surrounding failure, it is possible. Try to become more observant of your self-talk and what you are thinking when you fail, whether it be a minor or major failure. Maybe you worked on cooking a new recipe for hours and, in the end, it turned out lacklustre. Instead of berating yourself, take a seat and reflect on what you learned and why you feel the way you do. You pushed yourself to try something new and that is something to be celebrated whether your attempt was successful or not!
Failure is inevitable in any career, so befriend it instead of pushing it away.
2) I Deliberately Fail More Often
Failure is not a bad thing; it is essential for career success. If we don’t fail, it’s a sign we are not going out of our comfort zones enough. I always note my failures and set a goal each day for how many times I will try a task I have a good chance of not succeeding at. This forces me to see failure as something I should be trying to achieve more often because it leads to new learning.
I encourage you to become comfortable with failure; to view it in the same light as success. If we only pursue safe tasks and refuse to cope with failure, we will not achieve our full potential. Fear confines us, so learn to tackle it head-on. I tackled my fear of not winning the top position in a student election by running for that top spot. I didn’t win, but was proud of myself for trying. The experience was entirely positive because I learned so much about campaigning, speech-writing, and strategizing.
Hold yourself accountable for all of your failures. The power to grow is in your hands and you have the ability to transform your failures into successes.
3) I Share My Failures Proudly
Admitting failure was the most difficult — yet beneficial — part of overcoming my fear of failure. As humans, we are so eager to share our successes, yet reluctant to do the same when it comes to our mistakes. This reluctance prevents us from receiving the full learning experience that will benefit us in life and work.
By sharing my failures with others, I get valuable feedback and advice on how I can do better. I can see where I went wrong, my thought process compared to others, and how I can improve. It may not be easy to openly discuss failure, but the chances are that the people you reach out to have gone through similar ordeals and can provide you with their unique insight. When I shared my disappointment and discouragement at not winning a debate tournament, I received very helpful tips and tactics from a coach. She helped to restore my confidence and I performed much better the next time out.
We can remove the stigma around seeing failure as weakness by discussing our failures openly. Don’t be shy about sharing it!
The Final Take-Away — Make Failure Your Friend!
Don’t let your fear of failure stop you from being successful. We all have room to fail and the capacity to bounce back. By working on my mindset, trying to fail more often, and discussing my failures with others, I’ve gained a healthier relationship with failure. It can be used as a tool, if you’re willing to push yourself and confront your negative perceptions about it. Learn to sit with your failure, absorb it, and reflect. Starting now, leverage failure to your advantage. Personally, I know it can encourage and nurture career development and personal growth. Overcoming fear of failure is one step on the path to creating a bright future!
Ramona Karimi (she/her) is enthusiastic about Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) and human rights. As Co-Director of The Ambassadors Program at Project Power Global, she is striving to fight poverty through education. Ramona takes pride in spreading awareness on urgent matters, which is why she is an ambassador for Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here Program and Superposition Toronto. She hopes to have a career involved in equity and equality in STEM fields. To learn more, connect with Ramona on Linkedin.