Add to that on this particular night, two girls I knew came in to watch. I was so worried about giving a bad performance in front of them that I became scared to take any risks. That whole night I barely said a word and let the others do all the talking. I was scared of saying the wrong thing, saying something that wasn't funny or pertinent, scared of stepping on someone else's line and scared of blocking others. I got eliminated fairly early, sat quietly on the sidelines for the rest of the show and then busied myself in my phone until the two girls walked out so that I wouldn't have to talk to them.
Why did that happen? What is it about the fear of looking stupid or getting things wrong that makes us hesitate to even attempt something? Thinking about it even more, I realised that for the longest time, I hadn't been applying to jobs I should apply to, hadn't pursued some of my more challenging dreams for fear that I'd waste all my time on it, hadn't asked out any girls that I thought I'd work well with... I have a fear of rejection and a fear of looking stupid and it's crippling. I went online that night to look up "fear of failure" and what I could do about it. Here's what the first website said:
Have you ever been so afraid of failing at something that you decided not to try it at all?
Or has a fear of failure meant that subconsciously, you undermined your own efforts to avoid the possibility of a larger failure?
Um, well... No, I don't think that's the case...
Fear can be very immobilising. When we allow our fear to stop our progress in life, we're likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.
Well yes, I know that. We all do. But it's not like my life's at a standstill, there's just a few key areas where I need to improve.
Causes of a Fear of Failure:
Ah, here we go.
To understand what causes a fear of failure, we must first understand what it means...
Oh geez. Look at this, four paragraphs later and they're still in definition mode. Let's skip ahead a bit.
Signs of a Fear of Failure:
Failure - A Matter of Perspective:
Overcoming your fear:
HERE we go. Now we get to the good stuff.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to overcome your fear of failure.
- Analyze all potential outcomes - Many people fear failure because of fear of the unknown. Remove that fear by considering all the potential outcomes of your decision.
- Learn to think more positively - Positive thinking is a powerful tool for building self confidence and neutralising self-sabotage.
- Look at the wost-case scenario - In some cases, the worst case scenario may be genuinely disastrous and your fear my be perfectly rational. In other cases, it might not be so bad.
- Have a contingency plan - Having a plan B may reduce the consequences of failing in the first place.
That................. was the worst piece of shit article I've ever read. What kind of tips were they? Think positively? Have a backup plan? How on Earth does it help to say What you're scared of may be real... Or it may not be? Looking at more and more articles down the Google listings, they all said pretty much the same thing. Useless drivel from people who clearly didn't understand how to deal with fear.
I decided that if I'm going to get over this fear of failure, I'm going to have to work it out myself. I'm a tackle-things-head-on kind of guy. I'm going to have to spend a little while putting myself in situations where I'm very likely to fail. Maybe if I get exposure to looking stupid or being rejected, I'll start to see those moments as the learning opportunity they really are.
So that's it, I now have a new adventure. From today until February 1 next year (subject to change), I'm going to confront my fear of failure head-on. I decided to commence this project with very little thought for the consequences and no plan of action... so I've made a good start already ;)