Tag Archives: failure

The Failure of Fear

The Failure of Fear

As any entrepreneur can tell you, running your own business can be a downright frightening thing at times. Times when you wonder whether you’ll be noticed or stand out from your competition. Times when you have to stand up in front of a group of strangers and try to explain what it is you offer – in a compelling enough way to attract clients or customers. Times when you hit the “publish” button on your blog or website and hope that what you’ve written hits its mark. Times when you wonder if you’ll be able to pay your bills, the rent and still have enough to buy groceries.

I’ve lived with fear a long time. It’s been such a close companion, for much of my life I didn’t even know it for what it was. I assumed it was normal to worry like crazy, feel anxious and berate oneself for failures. Most of us do it all the time, behaving as if we all should somehow magically be prepared for any possible contingency, every possible outcome. “What an idiot I am! Why didn’t I realize that was going to happen? I should have known! I should have seen the signs!!!”

Lately, I found myself worrying a lot about whether my business will succeed or fail. Am I doing everything I can to promote myself? Am I doing it right? Do I even know what I’m supposed to be doing? What if it doesn’t work? What if I can’t do it???

The questions were swimming around in my head, keeping me up at night and waking me up in a state of panic in the mornings. “I’ll be OK,” I told myself. “I have faith that it will work out; I’m in a learning curve, that’s all.” But no matter how much I tried to hush the panicky voices inside me, they only seemed to hang on tighter and get louder.

I finally sat down to confront them the other night. I wanted to truly understand why, no matter what I said or did, I still felt this anxiety. Finally, it hit me: what my fear needed to hear was confirmation that I have failed. I HAVE FAILED. I’m doing it even now. Oh, my. Wow. I am currently failing. My business success is not happening the way I wanted it to right now.  I’ve FAILED!!!!! Aaaarrrrggghhhhh!!!

And then I started laughing. Because as soon as I admitted to myself that I am failing, I have failed and I no doubt will continue to fail, I FELT BETTER. My anxiety lightened up a little. The problems I’m dealing with didn’t go away, but the panicky questions in my head – the constant stream of “what ifs?” – got quieter.

I’m still giggling a little as I write this. What a relief to remember that it’s OK to fail; in fact we do it all the time. How lovely to revel in failures and the lessons they can teach rather than shy away from them. Now that I’ve admitted to failing, I am open to possibility. Instead of the nagging “What if?” I can hear the exhilarating “What’s next?!”

Try it. Admit to your deepest fear. You can fail. It doesn’t have to be spectacular; it can just be. I wonder what will happen when you do.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try

…DIFFERENTLY!

I had to let go of a project this week. That sounds easier than it was. It took some time for me to reach the conclusion that it simply wasn’t going to work out the way I’d planned it. For some of us, letting go is viewed as a last resort – we cling to the outcome or goal we seek at all costs, until the outcome feels all-important. Letting go of that desired outcome or goal feels like “giving up” or worse yet, “abject failure”!

I’m coming to learn, however, that letting go can actually reconnect us to the very results we so dearly wished for when we were clinging so hard. This project, for example. I put a lot of stake in it succeeding. I had the expectation that it would make money – not only for me, but for the person I partnered with. I had the expectation that it would bring me more clients and increase my reputation. I had expectations of it being wildly successful.

That’s a lot of expectations. Looking at it now, I envision those expectations as if they were “sticky grenades” (to borrow an expression). I stuck them on this project and they were just about ready to explode in my face! All of those expectations caused me to feel pressured, panicked and anxious. And those feelings were creeping up on me little by little as the deadline approached…I almost didn’t notice them until it was too late.

I had to face the facts: I had given up on myself in the process of attaching to these expectations and outcomes. I confronted my feelings and realized I had disconnected from the initial idea – what I loved about it. So, I decided to let it go. The whole thing.

And once I did, I felt lighter, clearer.

Suddenly, there was possibility again. In my feeling of lightness, I could clearly envision my next steps:

I set an intention to stay mindful of the process and the love of what I’m choosing rather than attaching to specific outcomes. I let go of any particular expectations. I stay curious, stay open and let what happens, happen.

I’ll let you know how it goes.