Have you ever wanted to try something new but let the fear of failure dissuade you? I think most people can answer "yes" to this question. At many times in our lives, failure is a legitimate concern. It's normal, essential even, to weigh the pros and cons and carefully consider the chances of success for any endeavor. Strategic thought is part of the reason for our dominance as a species. However, it can also be a hindrance. I mentioned this in a previous article, but I think it's worth discussing in greater depth.
Fear of failure
People naturally prefer to avoid failure. On its face, failure means a loss of time and resources. It can entail embarrassment and rejection. From an evolutionary standpoint, it's possible that we have come to avoid failure in order to preserve our own species. After all, it is not hard to imagine situations in which failure would mean loss of life in our more primitive days. But even now, failure could be the slip of a scalpel or a miscalculation of the pressure in a fuel tank. The potential consequences of failure are quite enough to be a deterrent against effort, but some may even find the mere possibility of failure to be the biggest obstacle of all.
Fear of failure can kill a great idea before it is given rational consideration. If you might miss, why take aim?
Fight or flight
Running is an easy and usually effective way of avoiding the pitfalls of conflict and failed efforts, and in the same manner as electrical current, we tend to choose the path of least resistance. But evolution has also given us the option to fight. Why would we be given this option if it means a much higher chance of failure? The short answer is that overcoming your failures and succeeding at something difficult will result in greater rewards. Often times, it is worth the challenge and the risk.
Progress requires sacrifice. Just like Tyler Durden's army of space monkeys, you must be willing to think of the greater good. This can apply to you as an individual in a society, but you can extend the principle to everything you do. It is this spirit in which failure is actually a good thing.
If everyone succeeded at everything they tried, life would be dull. There would be no reason to try anything new, and there would be no challenges to overcome. We'd live simplistic lives that cater only to our basic needs. Failure may bring tragedy and loss, but it also gives us a reason to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones.
Failure is also a necessary component of success. It creates an opportunity for survival and incredible achievement. Even some of our greatest discoveries have been the direct result of failure. We cannot learn from our mistakes without making them. We cannot find the right path without eliminating the wrong ones. The most successful people in the world are also the ones who fail the most. The reason they are so successful is because they endure the failures and learn from them along their paths to success. They wield failure as another tool to be utilized.
So if you are truly worried about failing, consider that by neglecting to try something, you automatically fail at it. Failure should not be feared; it should be welcome.
Life is like walking -- constantly falling forward. Master the failures, and success is a walk in the park.