Have you ever watched a baby attempt to feed itself with a spoon for the first time? The baby might start by using its hands to carefully pile up the food on the spoon. With the mouth open in anticipation, the baby will next lift the spoon with a clumsy grip between its little palm and the food will immediately fly from the spoon in all directions. If any food finally makes it to the face, it will land anywhere else but the mouth. The baby will use all its might to accomplish this incredibly messy and seemingly Herculean task. Did you notice that the baby would cry whenever anyone tried to take away the spoon?
That is how with just a little encouragement the baby learns everything else…walking, playing a game, dressing, counting, writing, and so on. Wouldn’t you then conclude that our human instincts compel us to disregard any failed attempts until we achieve our objectives?
You might have been confronted with a situation similar to the following: You have been considering starting a small business for quite a while and you suddenly wake up one day with a brilliant idea. You spend the whole day with your head in the clouds thinking about it – the more you consider it, the more attractive it looks. You get fired up to the extent of making a few calls to get information. You feel that this business opportunity is as good as any that will ever come your way – you can pull together the capital, you have the skills needed and, you need not resign from your current job.
It is during one of the calls that you encounter the first unexpected hurdle. This triggers you to start thinking about the risks involved in starting this kind of business – and you find many. The more you assess your chances of failure, the more it seems that you will never succeed. By and by, your initial confidence that was bubbling with health becomes emaciated to the bone. As the last of you enthusiasm fizzles out, you tell yourself, “Oh, well! It needs more time than I have in my hands to do the market research anyway.” You have a sense of righteous justification in noting that there does not seem to be anyone else doing this particular business around town despite the demand. You go ahead and trash yourself by thinking, “If I am the only one with the idea, then the timing cannot be right.”
Several months later, you notice that someone has started the exact same business in the neighborhood. It is as if the person found the gem of idea, picked it up, dusted it, and gladly implemented it as soon as you threw it out of the window!
The fear of failure is real and denies people many chances to try out things that might add great value to their lives. A good business opportunity…a blissful relationship…creativity…a chance for personal development…are all being thrown away daily for fear of failure. Have you always known that you have a great voice but are afraid to sing in case people think you suck? Do you shy from exercising or watching your diet because you think you will never shed those pounds? Have you been dying to conquer a harmful habit but always end up considering it as a family curse?
The go-getters always say that, ‘failure is not an option.’ Thomas Edison dreamt of a lamp that could be operated by electricity and despite more than 10,000 failures he stood by that dream until he made it a physical reality. He never gave up and saw each design not as a failure, but “the elimination of a design that didn’t work, so we must be getting close…”
At some point in early life, the world teaches each one of us that not achieving our objectives is wrong by attaching physical and psychological penalties on failures. An individual’s reaction to these penalties might cause him or her to avoid doing anything that has a significant chance of failure. If each person knew that failure was wrong as soon as he or she was born, what fraction of the population would be able to walk, talk or tie their shoestrings today? It is only after you entertain thoughts of failure that the light starts dimming from your excellent ideas. To achieve greatly, you need to learn how to make failure something not to be considered…to make it not an option. Alternatively, you might want to consider it as a great opportunity to learn from…fail your fear rather than of fear your failure. Whatever the case, do not allow the fear of failure to be the reason why you never exercised your wings for flight.
Thomas Edison – one of the greatest inventors of all time – had some unique habits and strategies.
Edison spent a good deal of time just thinking. He fished off the end of his dock for an hour almost everyday of his life. He always fished by himself but he never caught any fish. Observers always thought it was strange that Edison would spend so much time fishing when he really wasn’t that good at it.
Late in life, he was asked about his obsession with fishing even though he was probably the worst angler anyone had ever seen. His answer was, “I really never caught any fish because I have never used any bait.” Most people were shocked and thought he was crazy so they asked, “Why in the world would you fish without bait?”
His answer? “Because when you fish without bait, people don’t bother you and neither do the fish. It provides me my best time to think.”