The Fear of Making Mistakes and Failing

Most people live their life with two major fears hanging over their head, the fear of making mistakes and the fear of failing. Often these are the very people who wish for the dazzling success of the leaders in different fields.

But the leaders in any field, in many ways, are not really that different from you or anyone else. They are normal people, but they accomplish more than others. The qualities that set many of them apart are available to anyone.

See mistakes and failure as an opportunity to learn.

If you can take a negative experience and turn it into a learning opportunity, you are doing it right. A mistake or a failure doesn’t have to be the end of the road. If you take the time to understand what went wrong and see if there is a way to correct it, nothing was really lost.

Let mistakes and failure strengthen your resolve.

When you have an attitude of I will not be denied, then you can use setbacks and struggles to make you stronger and get back into things with a stronger will.

In the Taekwondo organization I was in during the mid-90s, there was a policy where your first Black Belt rank was called Probationary 1st Degree. You had two testing cycles to pass the next test or you were demoted to red belt. The first time I tested for Decided 1st Degree I injured my foot a few days before the test. I was bull-headed enough to still try to break the board with that now injured foot as I had said I would on the testing forms. I swung a round kick into the board and the board held true while pain exploded from foot to brain. I was in a lot of pain, but made the second of three allowed attempts, with the same result. On the third attempt, I used my one allowed change of technique, switching to the opposite foot for the break. By this point, my right foot was no longer in any condition to hold me up, and the third and final break attempt failed, as did I on the test.

I limped back to my car and understood very clearly that this failure was entirely my fault. When the next testing cycle rolled around, I hit the boards hard enough to break the center section out instead of breaking them in half. I passed because I refused to fail. The first test was a setback in my eyes, not a failure.

Had I let the results of the first test sink in and cloud my vision, I might have never gone back and tested again. Then I would be an old man sitting here tonight wondering what to write about…