Friday, April 20, 2007

Views on Failure

Hey, anyone reading this post: Please give me your thoughts on failure. Does it paralyze you? If yes, why? Is it a positive or negative thing in your life? If a friend of yours experienced catastrophic failure, what would you tell them (catastrophic is relative, of course. Failing a test might be horrible for one person, losing a game for another, losing a job, etc).

Do you allow fear of failure to prevent you from attempting anything?


damaris said...

huh. i got up around 5am to take dad to the airport. just so you know, i am running on 4 hrs of sleep and have to get ready to leave myself tomorrow.

there. i just left a really lame (but true) exscuse as to why i am not analyzing this post enough to talk about it. but it is good. ;)

and now i have three paragraphs, so by the time you get down here you won't really care if i commented on the actual content or not.

Anonymous said...

Because this topic was also posted in February, I’m guessing it is an emotion/concept/idea (whatever title you want to give it) that is strong and affects most people’s lives. I believe everyone at one time or another lets fear stop them for one reason or another.

Jack Canfield explains that “Millions of years ago fear was our body’s way of signaling us… It alerted us to possible danger… which was useful in the days when saber-toothed tigers were chasing us. But today, most of our threats are not all that life-threatening.” Therefore, most of the fear we feel is what we create ourselves. Jack Canfield also explains that psychologists like to say that fear means: Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real. Most of what we fear usually does not come true.

If your friend’s (let’s call her Petula) catastrophic failure, is really catastrophic, then she probably had a lot to loose. But she had to get that “lot to loose” from somewhere… I’m guessing she got it from working hard, learning, growing and taking risks somewhere along the line. She had to earn that “lot to loose”. The last I heard success does not grow on trees. One has to gain it. If failure caused Petula to loose something, chances are she already knows were to get whatever she lost back, and how to do it. If it’s not something worth getting back, then it was probably not as catastrophic as she thought.

Robert F. Kennedy said “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” So if Petula really failed greatly, then she will achieve greatly.

Rob said...

Excellent! That last paragraph is where all of this is eventually going (for something I'm paid to write). What I'm looking for here are people who find fear of failure crippling or at least giving tremendous pause.

Is that root really fear of losing everything? Is a a material fear or does it have a mental component of disfunctional/illogical thinking?

And who are you, Anonymous? One of my brilliant friends or a brilliant drive-by?

Anonymous said...

Fear is different things to different people. Some use/have fear to prompt them into action. Some use/have fear from stopping them from doing harmful things. Some fear loosing material things, some peoples fear is illogical. In my opinion, fear evolves in each of us. At one time or another, we all were fearless. We all learned to walk, run and ride a bike. But somewhere fear stepped in, and stepped in too far, and took over our logic.

I myself, for many years have let fear stop me from doing many, many things. Illogical? Yes. I would like to be the best that I can be. But the fear steps in and thoughts take over. (What if I attempt something and it does not work? What if I don’t have the intelligence to accomplish what I would like?) But if I do not try, I won’t know that I can’t do it. I will always have that “I could do that if I try” attitude.

But I am slowing doing things that are out of my comfort zone. And the more I do, the more I realize, little or no harm came from it. Eventually the things that I would loose sleep over, I no longer think twice about. I am learning with enough determination, I can find the knowledge and skill needed to accomplish what I would like to, even if it is not a natural talent.

Perhaps you can help answer your own question. You’ve had writing talent for many years. Yes, over time a person gains knowledge and experience to fine tune their craft, but the talent was always there. You just recently became a full-time free-lance writer, what were you afraid of? Why did you wait for many years to quit your full-time job? Did that fear keep you from accomplishing your dream earlier? Or did that fear keep your family feed with a roof over their heads? Perhaps both? Perhaps neither?

(Brilliant: not even close. Friend: always.)

Rob said...

Ah-ha! Well read, rich synthesis of ideas, and trademark humility? Hello, J.D. glad you've come online!

You ask a good question. It took quite awhile for several reasons.
1) I attempted different paths. Writing my own stuff wasn't getting me published because of the current publishing trends (talent is a distant second to bringing your own market with you, which I don't have.) I squandered decades with that.
2)Article writing was a nice income supplement, but not enough to live on.
3) Ghostwriting was finally the chosen path, but I had to work part time to get out the first couple books to get the credits necessary to get further work that would pay up front. Then it was a matter of looking for the first contract that could free me of the cubical farm.

So I don't think fear of failure was so much the problem as waiting for the right path to present itself and walking far enough down that road to make it family-supporting.

I have learned a new lesson, though. I need to have additional services to survive between contracts or when a contract is broken. That's where I'm at now, and while fear creeps in from time to time, God is faithful to remind me that He is the provider, not me or my clients.