Fear is the Bridge Between Success and Failure.

Fear is the Bridge Between Success and Failure.

The iconic writer Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” We only succeed if we muscle enough energy to cross the bridge called fear.  I hope by the end of this article we will be able to resist fear and have a mastery of it.

Every time I think of fear, I loosely feel like crying. I feel so simply because of the many opportunities I have lost because of fearing. Fear is a very big monster that has kept many of us lame for as long we can remember. It looks unconquerable yet it takes just but a moment to transition and win over it.

Last week, I did presentations on the AY4S platforms about how we can empower the youth through entrepreneurship to solve Africa’s leading challenges. AY4S is an African movement that brings together young people from across the continent who are passionate about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The moment the request came in, I feared I was not measuring up to it. After a little thought though, I agreed. I don’t regret it.

Denzel Washington’s words ringed through my mind before I could start the presentation. In fact they are the very words that made me accept the request in the first place. He remarked in his commencement address at the University of Penn that, ‘I feared (knew) I will fail, I will suck at myself, I will embarrass myself and that is (precisely) the reason why I had to come.’ Remember that in every failure is a lesson to learn. But then, let the truth prevail that everybody else fears, you are not alone. The only difference is our response to that fear.

Let me look at a few types of fear and how they impede our walk towards happiness, freedom and success. Remember this, the thin line between success and failure is not lack of talent, resources, time or even opportunity. It is fear.

Fear of failure.

Everybody has had this fear. And those who have failed before know that failing is not a good thing. I have ‘failed’ a couple of times in my short life and I can say the feeling is awful. But that has never barred me from trying again and again. I put the word ‘failure’ in quotes simply because I no longer look at failure as an end in itself rather as a means to an end. There is a very valuable lesson I take out of every failure.

Donald Trump in his book The Art of The Deal says, “I love investing when the economy is not good.” I interpret this to mean that when everybody else is fearing of loss and bankruptcy if they invest at such a time, someone else sees opportunity and has the confidence to exploit it. He notes that it has always paid back. Failure is success in disguise. It is so close to success like simply pointing us to the next exit.

Fear of starting.

This is a tricky type of failure. We don’t often recognize it since we thrive well in our comfort zones. Sometimes not all of us fear to fail, but then to procrastinate is another form of fear. There is a group of us who keep saying we have ideas but have never tested any one of them. The phobia of beginning is the disease.

I have always looked at this fear closely and realized that uncertainty is the crippling thing in it. People don’t know exactly what to do or how start out because they are not sure if that is what they need.  Often they are not sure if it will turn out as expected. It is closely related to the fear of failure only that people don’t fear failure alone.

In a coaching session I attended some time back this month, I realized that even people fail to start because of fear of success. How will people see me when I succeed? What will they think of me? So fear of failure, not meeting goals explicitly or even success can cripple people from starting out to implement their ideas.

From our discussion last week, I noted most people fear a lot to start out. Well it is normal. But wait a minute, if it is too normal, can it mean we are too complacent with the status quo? That is not for people destined for success. To level this fear, just start and muscle on the way. Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” Just start.

Fear of making the first move and rejection.

The fear of making the first move is usually prevalent in partnership arrangements. People always keep getting worried about what if they did the ice breaking. They worry a lot about the other party’s thoughts. Now imagine you are two partners and a proposal comes your way, before you can do the investment, everyone is fearing to support the venture firsthand because of uncertainty in the outcome. It means failing even before starting out.

This type of fear goes hand in hand with fear of refection. I once went to introduce my business to a client where I received a very cold rejection. This strengthened me for your information.  This makes it the simplest fear to conquer. Why say so?

Imagine if conquering the fear of rejection was a nightmare, more than two thirds of the world population could be unmarried and without children. We get rejected daily in our pursuits, but we don’t give up. Often in matters to do with relationships, rejection is prevalent but we overcome it. The same should apply for the resilience needed in other life rejections such as business deals, jobs etc.

When a good idea comes up in a group, use the billionaire tact. Be speedy in implementation. Make the first move. There is always an edge created in this especially amid the competition.

Angela Duckworth in her book Grit speaks of how hard encounters toughen us for future and bigger endeavors. The grit developed from rejection and failure after starting out develops our resilience which is an antidote for fear. You have to keep going to develop it just as honesty and trust is developed over time.

So amid the fear of failure, rejection, uncertainty, starting or even making the first move lies a simple trophy, victory. If you can have victory as your goal over the dogma of fear, nothing else can pin you down and leave you there. You will rise with it or shortly after it in case you stumble. As the Japanese say, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

Photo courtesy of poemsbucket.

Want to conquer the world? First conquer the fear in you. World is relative in this case and  it could mean achieving all you desire which could be money success, strong will, talent development, happiness or any other goals.

I conclude this article with President Franklin Roosevelt’s words during the 1930’s economic recession, he said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” What a tipping point statement.

Copyright @ 2018

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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