If you want to understand how to overcome fear of failure in business then the first step is to notice ‘what if something goes wrong’ type thoughts. For an entrepreneur fear of failure can be crippling. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, everyone has these thoughts at some point, and in this article we will explore the 5 top tips to overcome your fears and get confident in your business.
The difference between those who are successful, and those who aren’t, is learning how to manage your thoughts and overcome your fear of failure in business.
Having a fear of failure in business can show up in a whole range of ways; procrastination, taking the wrong action, staying in your comfort zone, over giving, feeling like an impostor, not promoting yourself or avoiding being visible and even self-sabotaging your success – and often creates entrepreneur anxiety.
The reality is that owning a business involves taking risks as to whether something will work out.
There will always be things that are outside of your direct control and the best way to manage those decisions is by keeping calm, weighing up your options and understanding the risks. To do that, you need to be able to manage your mindset.
Some people say that fear isn’t real – but if you’ve ever experienced it, you’re probably thinking it feels pretty real to me! Fear is real, but it’s a chemical response in the body that is created when we feel that we are unsafe in some way. It’s the mind (and body’s) way of keeping you safe.
Here are the top 5 secrets of how to overcome fear of failure in business:
How to deal with fear of failure
1. Turn fear to excitement
To a certain point, fear is healthy, it’s the mind’s way of stopping you from putting yourself in dangerous situations such as walking off a cliff. But the mind can also be taught to enjoy the sensation and even convert the bodily sensations to one of pleasure.
If you think about the feeling that you get when you are looking over a cliff edge; if you were on a rollercoaster being suspended at the crest about to be dropped, you’ll get a similar sensation. But on a rollercoaster you might find that the sensation is actually quite pleasurable. This shows that fear is a matter of perspective.
Tony Robbins tells a story of working with both Carly Simon and Bruce Springsteen. When it came for time for each of them to go out of stage, they described the same nervous response; sweaty palms, raised heartbeat, butterflies in the stomach, feelings of anxiety but whilst Carly Simon felt like she was having a panic attack and couldn’t go out on stage, Bruce Springsteen said that’s when he knew that he was ready to go out on stage. Both were in the same situation, the same fear, the same physical symptoms but Bruce could shift his perspective from being afraid to being excited.
By observing what bodily sensations you are experiencing you can redirect your mind to feel excited rather than afraid.
2. Look for opportunities rather than risks
Human beings are programmed to identify risks to keep them safe, if you were a caveman you needed to know which animals posed a threat to you, and which berries you could eat and which might poison you. Unfortunately, this instinct also means that we often focus on what can go wrong rather than what can go right.
Fear of failure is just a signal from your brain that what you are doing seems unsafe and your mind wants to protect you.
The good news is that you can train your brain to look for opportunities and benefits rather than focusing on what can go wrong.
Whenever you catch yourself in a negative spiral of what could go wrong, start by asking yourself what is the probability of that disaster you are envisaging actually happening (it’s probably much lower than you think) and then start to focus on what might go right.
Make the opportunities bigger than the risk.
Expressing gratitude each day, and focusing on all the good you have has been proven to train the brain over time to start identifying the positives over the negatives. There are apps to help with this, or just use a notebook.
3. Do a risk assessment and outcome plan
A fear of failing is related to feeling like things are outside of our direct control. However, there are lots of things that do remain inside of our control, including planning for what might go wrong.
The trick here is not to get lost down a rabbit hole, but to create a reasonable assessment of what risks and outcomes you might face, the impact of them if they happen. Then you can assess how probable they are to actually happen. The mind is drawn to worst case scenarios, but the chances of them ever happening are pretty low.
Once you have assessed what might go wrong you can create a plan to address each outcome if it should arise. That way you are in control and you are able to respond to a situation calmly knowing that you’ve planned for this. When NASA sends astronauts into space, they have spent years planning for every eventual outcome and practicing how to deal with it calmly. You probably don’t want to spend years on this exercise but it by spending a small amount of time thinking about it, you will find that you feel more in control.
4. Reframe failure as opportunities for growth
It can be painful to look back at what went wrong, especially if you have perfectionist tendencies, however this is an example of no pain no gain. Without reflecting on what did or didn’t work you can’t consciously avoid creating the same result.
Albert Einstein famously said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Without reviewing the situation and analysing it, you run the risk of doing the same thing time and time again – and guess what, if you don’t correct your course the chances are that you’re not going to get a different outcome.
Of course, the other option is that you let the fear of failing in business again stop you from even trying again. The difference between a beginner and an expert is that the expert has failed more times than the beginner has tried. If you want success you have to take action, and if you can reframe anything that doesn’t work out how you want it to as a first attempt, learn from it, adjust your approach and try again.
5. Break the Cycle of Beliefs and Emotions
The biggest secret about fear of failing is that it’s not a fear of failing at all. Yes you read that right. It’s a fear of having to feel difficult and painful emotions that are created by feeling like we have failed.
We are programmed to feel pleasure and avoid pain, and therefore painful or difficult emotions can become hard to manage. Many people spend vast amounts of energy trying to avoid painful emotions, such as abusing alcohol or drugs, over or under eating, over working or even addiction to exercise.
Humans are the only animal that can turn on their stress response using just their mind.
When you have a thought that creates a fear response, it’s like someone switched on the emotional circuity in your brain that releases chemicals and hormones to enable you to run, or to fight (your fight or flight reflex). That switch releases a sudden injection of emotion into your bloodstream, and if aren’t ready to deal with the emotions, it can create behaviour such as avoidance or procrastination, angry outburst or in terms of business, not wanting to be visible, playing small or keeping in our safety zone to avoid those uncomfortable emotions.
Likewise, if a situation creates a similar emotional response, it can also trip the underlying belief to trigger the thought process again. We can get trapped in a loop of our emotions and beliefs.
To break the cycle it’s critical to identify what thoughts you are thinking at the time that is happens – and what the beliefs are that you hold that are creating that thought. For example, maybe you send an email out to your distribution list, and 5 minutes later spot a typo. Your thoughts might be I’m stupid, I never get things right, I’m rubbish at writing emails.
You’re likely feel disappointment, shame, frustration and perhaps other negative emotions. All of which trigger the root cause belief I’m not good enough.
It’s this root cause belief that’s creating the fear of failing and generating the painful emotions. Changing your deep-rooted beliefs can completely transform how you respond to situations, the emotions that you feel and your perspective on life, including how you think about failing.
If you are sick and tired of getting in your own way, want to break free from your fear of failing in business and feel empowered to take effective action then check out my 3 month 1:1 program that combines Rapid Transformational Therapy ™ with coaching, NLP and hypnotherapy to transform your mindset, get past your fears once and for all and get excited about taking action to move your business forwards or join my Facebook community GetConfidentGetVisible