You’re gazing across the chasm. There’s a risk you’re considering, but you’re staring failure in the face. You’re sizing it up and wondering if it’s worth it. You want to accomplish something of meaning, but you’re feeling the weight of the risk. You have a backup plan to live small and take the long way around the chasm.
Whatever your risk is I promise you this; the life you’re designed to live is on the other side of fear. I get the privilege of walking with leaders and teams through risks. I get invited behind the curtain to experience what they’re actually feeling. One thing always resurfaces at the edge of gutsy decisions; our view of failure.
Fear of failure grips us for different reasons. Perhaps you grew up in a family where failure was shamed or never discussed. Perhaps you had some failure that shaped you so deeply it keeps your eyes stuck in the past. Perhaps you believe your worth comes from your work and failure would signal you can’t get the job done. Fear of failure makes you human, but it also keeps you stuck.
Remember this about failure…
Many times the greatest risk is staying where you are. Living things move, adapt and change. Inactivity is often the biggest risk you can take.
Failure is fertile ground for learning. Failures along the path shape us into who we are. They can invite us greater wisdom if we learn from them. Self-aware leaders often look back and laugh at their early failures en route to later successes.
Many times failure is only “perceived failure”. Often people feel they have failed, but others don’t feel that way. We can become far more critical of our own decisions than others.
Those who give permission to fail create safety around them. Giving your friends or your team permission to fail can yield freedom to risk and innovate. Many of the best leaders and organizations create intentional space for experimentation and expect many new projects won’t succeed.
Leaders who risk after failure often win. So much of life and leadership is simple persistence. You’re going to fall down sometimes; the question is whether you’re going to get back up and keep risking.
Failure is not the end. It can become initiation into a greater story of risk and reward. You know where you truly want to go, and you know the chasm of fear standing in your way. What’s your next right step to cross that chasm?