Fear of Failure vs Anticipation of Success

Fear of Failure vs Anticipation of Success

How do your goals and dreams make you feel? Hopeful? Excited? Scared? Depressed? All of the above?

I believe that goals and dreams are often unrealized due to fear more than most any other obstacle. Often the risks required to make great strides threaten our ego more than our physical beings. How do you feel when you think about your goals and dreams? How do you feel when you do the work required to accomplish your goals and dreams?

10354380_257044007832868_715638662_nAs a musician and creator (songwriting, producing, etc.) I have fallen victim to my own fears and lack of confidence for many years. On one hand I’m trying to make an artistic statement and express myself and on the other hand I fear that it won’t be good enough for anyone to appreciate. At this point in my life I begin to wonder that if I haven’t become successful after 30 years of being a pro musician maybe I just don’t have “it” (whatever that is). Maybe I’m too old and just being foolish. (these ideas can often also be expressed by those around us thus further reducing our confidence in ourselves and what we’re trying to do)

Does success breed confidence or does confidence breed success? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both. As a performer confidence is a must to play and perform to the best of our ability. Having the ability to seek out opportunities to perform and promote our work requires “chutzpah”. It can be very difficult to promote something (or someone) that you don’t believe in. The fear of rejection- whether it be from a fellow musician, a prospective employer or from the audience in general- can be paralyzing. Fear and doubt can prevent us from finishing projects, promoting works or seeking business/ employment/ performance opportunities.

So with all this thinking about whether we’re good enough, what negative thing could happen, what a disaster things could be, etc why can’t we flip the script and start thinking about what could go RIGHT??? How could this effort possibly create something great or open up some awesome new opportunity? And if it doesn’t work out for some reason can’t we just keep swinging? (A pro baseball player that makes many millions of dollars a year would be happy to have a batting average in the .300’s. that means they don’t make it to base roughly 7/10ths of the time they go to bat. They usually fail. The trick is to accept “failure” as a part of seeking success because it’s just a part of trying to do things. Why not focus on making hits and home runs instead of the possibility of striking out?

Being an artist, a creator, an entrepreneur, a business owner or whathaveyou means that you are taking risks with a hope of returns- great or small. If you are unwilling or unable to accept risk then being an artist or entrepreneur is probably not for you because you WILL fail sometimes. There will always be people that don’t appreciate who you are or what you are doing. Some of the most successful people in the entertainment industry are also some of the most derided. From Michael Jackson to Justin Bieber to Miles Davis no matter how good, talented or successful you are there will be people who don’t appreciate you or what you do. They may even “hate” you.

So what can we do to make it a habit to think about what can go right? We may need to make efforts to reprogram the way we frame ourselves and our efforts. As I mentioned before we can “flip the script” so to speak. Here are some examples:

  • This probably won’t work -> This might work
  • This won’t work -> This will work
  • I can’t do this -> I can do this
  • No one will like this -> Someone will like this
  • I’m not good enough -> I am good enough
  • I’m too old -> I’m not too old

We can also learn to believe that we are capable of developing new and better skills to accomplish our goals. Young people often acquire great skills and accomplish great works in just a brief time on this planet. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that an adult with many years of knowledge, experience and wisdom could make the same kind of progress if not even greater progress in the same amount of time? I believe it is not our age but our limiting thoughts and beliefs that prevent us from achieving our goals- especially later in life. Learning to be flexible in what we do and how we approach life is essential to making progress. If we stick to the same daily habits and modes of thinking that got us where we are it is unlikely that we will end up anywhere else unless we make changes in ourselves. Here are some examples

  • Struggling with being overweight but being unwilling to make a daily change in one’s eating habits —> Making the necessary lifestyle changes necessary to accomplish health goals
  • Stuck in a writing rut for lack of new artistic ideas but unwilling to learn new material, techniques or approaches to creating —> Actively seeking to seek out new artistic inspirations, learn new creative and performance techniques and taking time to improve technical skills
  • Mired in chronic obscurity due to lack of (consistent) promotional efforts —> Making networking a daily habit by reaching out to other professionals in one’s field as well as seeking out new fans through whatever means are possible
  • Not finishing works for fear that they won’t be “good enough” —> Finishing works with the hopes that someone, somewhere will appreciate and enjoy it despite the fact that many- if not most- will not.
  • Frustrated with the lack of opportunity with existing professional network —> Enthusiastic about the potential opportunities afforded from making new professional connections

I am in the process of sorting through my own self-limiting and self-defeating thoughts and habits and working to minimize or eliminate them. I invite you to contribute your own experiences, thoughts and ideas regarding overcoming fear and actually believing in ourselves. There will be more on this subject in upcoming posts as I believe that fear has been one of my biggest stumbling blocks in life but I only recently realized it.