It is said that the two biggest things preventing someone from being successful are the fear of success and the fear of failure. In my experience, the fear of failure is the more powerful of these. We “need" to make the right decision and do the right thing. We “need" to have everything go the way we planned it. But life just doesn't work that way. There are no guarantees in life (except death and taxes)
Perhaps the biggest problem with being afraid of failure is that it stops us from taking risks. The dictionary defines risk as “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazardous or dangerous chance". The truth is that just about anything you can do involves a risk. Even if you just walk across the street, you risk being run over by a car. There is always the risk that we will make the wrong decision. We all know that the bigger the risk the bigger the reward. Yet risk is a pretty scary thing to most of us. We would rather play it safe even if it means forgoing the reward.
All risks that are taken in order to define and improve yourself involve some kind of choice. These choices bring on feelings of uncertainty (because you can't know the outcome in advance), anxiety (because you fear the unknown), and guilt (you must leave behind what you have known and been), and often mixed feelings of exhilaration and fear. Some risks are monumental, such as moving across the country to start a new job, and some are less dramatic but equally significant, such as resisting the urge to do the popular or easy thing.
Risks taken in order to define and improve yourself can be broken down into three kinds. The first are self-improvement risks, which you take in hope that they will improve your life in some way. People are often afraid to take these risks because they may lead to personal failure, or because they may require significant personal sacrifice before you can get long-term benefits, or because you must sacrifice predictable routines and familiar things for the possibility of growth.
The second kind are commitment risks, which you take by committing yourself either to a person or relationship (such as when you fall in love), or to a value (such as a cause or a career). People are often afraid to commit because they are afraid that they will make a bad choice and have to live with it for a long time (such as a person who gets married and then finds out that they don't get along with their spouse). Being committed, however, is what leads to true satisfaction with life.
The third kind are self disclosure risks, which you take when you reveal to others who you really are, how you feel, and what you want or need. People are often afraid to take these risks because they may lead to disapproval and rejection. You can't be assertive without taking self disclosure risks, however.
The thing that is probably the most difficult for most of us to understand is that in order to have genuine security, you must take risks. If you never take a risk, you never learn that you can deal with problems that come up, and you never can take advantage of new and better ways of doing things when those opportunities arise. People who are afraid to take risks are likely to be frightened, rigid, closed, and unchanging. They have trouble coping under stress. Successful people feel fear too. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people don't let fear stop them from taking action anyway. They are not afraid to take risks. They are not afraid of being wrong.
They are open, flexible, and changing. They are secure.
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