Everyone can remember the first time they failed, made a mistake, totally forgot about a deadline. I certainly do…I remember raising my hand in class and loudly mispronouncing a word in front of my entire fifth grade class. I was mortified, turned bright red, would have become invisible if I could have, “knew” that everyone thought I was the stupidest kid in the class.

Everyone feels these things when they fail…that’s why so many of us try to avoid failure at all costs. On the other hand, by being willing to risk failure, we render ourselves willing to experience success.

Here are three ways to overcome the fear of failure at work:

  1. Pick a past failure and write down 3 things you learned from that specific failure.
    1. Say you missed a deadline, you likely learned you need to prioritize better, say no to projects that don’t serve your goals, tone down your perfectionism.
    2. Ask your self if you’ve made the changes necessary that would help prevent a failure like this one to happen again.
    3. Ask your colleagues/friends about how they’ve benefitted from past failures…hearing how others overcome their failures will help decrease your fears of failure.
  2. When failure is a possibility, view it as a challenge, not a threat.
    1. Contemplating is stressful…how you choose to approach stress is completely up to you.
    2. If you view stress as a threat, your body will prepare for battle.
    3. If you view stress as a challenge, your body will calm and you’ll think you’ll be capable of handling it.
    4. Build a challenge mindset.
      1. Think of past challenges (listing presentations, meetings, new marketing approaches) you’ve overcome and what you did to overcome those challenges.
      2. Visual success…imagine yourself doing well.
  • See whatever nerves/shakiness you might have as excitement/energy/enthusiasm for doing something important to you.
  1. Treat yourself kindly/compassionately when you fail.
    1. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do every single project at your highest level so…
      1. Choose to be mean to yourself for making a mistake or disappointing yourself or someone else…
      2. Or…choose to be kind to yourself and stave off embarrassment, guilt, shame
    2. Think about what your best friend/partner would say to you if you told them about your mistake or failure.
    3. Do some stress-relieving activity like exercising.
    4. Practice self compassion
      1. No need to bully your self…everyone fails.
      2. By being kind to your self, you’ll be able to persist in the face of failure and to do better next time.