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Failure-avoidance is bad for business. Treat yourself to some failure

Oct 04, 2018


The right attitude towards failure is essential for success.


Failure-avoidance is hardwired into many of us. We’re pushed hard towards implacable goals at a young age. “If you fail your exams, the rest of your life will be ruined” is the implicit message many of us received over and over again during our school years. No wonder we’re all worried about messing up.

Failure-avoidance leads to perfectionism. Perfectionism can be paralysing, and it can put paid to even the most promising ideas. If you’re petrified of failing and want to get everything right first time, your project is unlikely to ever leave the starting blocks. Successes are built out of multiple failures – each failure teaching a valuable lesson about what works and what doesn’t.

Here are a few tips to break a fear of failure:

  • Get to know yourself. Specifically, get to know how you respond to risk. How risk-avoidant are you? If you’re not 100% sure of how something will pan out, do you muck in anyway, or do you take a step back and leave it to someone else? Once you know a bit more about how you, personally, deal with the chance of failure, you can work on improving.
  • Change your habits. Alter small, ingrained habits. Maybe use your left hand rather than your right do hold your coffee cup. Maybe put your clothes on in a different order. This sounds silly, but it’s a good way of reconditioning your brain to be more open to the unfamiliar.
  • Learn to practice. The world loves to tell stories about savants - people who have an innate talent at something. This can lead us to believe that, if we’re not ‘naturally talented’ at something, we won’t ever be any good at it. In fact, everyone with a talent developed that talent through long, hard hours of practice. Patience and persistence are key.
  • Regard failures as a step in the right direction. Be gentle with yourself when you do – inevitably – fail. Failures aren’t the be all and end all. Regard them as a learning experience, which are taking you closer to your ultimate goal. 

So, if you’re looking for a way to push your business into the big leagues, why not give yourself a bit of leeway and treat yourself to some positive failure?