The fear of failure is the world’s most destructive illusion.
Not so much in the idea that fear isn’t real—it certainly is—but we oftentimes use its existence as a reason for our inaction and indecision, and ultimately our inability to try something new or succeed against all odds.
Before questioning the logic, ask yourself:
Is failure (or fear of it) what prevents you from doing what you want—whether it’s getting in shape, getting our life in order, or just getting busy—or are you just making excuses?
I work with people that have varying goals. Some of them are overweight individuals looking for a reason to hope. Others are the fittest people in the world scratching for that extra edge.
As CEO of Born Fitness I consult with some of the largest media and tech empires, all trying to figure out how to communicate their message to a larger demographic, and small business owner who have “an idea” that just needs an audience to work.
All of them want something different, with different motivations, directions, and endpoints.
But all are held up by the same problems and same excuses. When I hear their stories I always ask them to create two lists:
List #1: What are your goals?
List #2: What are your problems?
After they list their main issues, I ask them to remove all of the barriers that they don’t control and then rewrite the second list.
You know what happens?
Most of the time the list remains unchanged. And it should come as no surprise: most of our frustrations are illusions.
They are barriers we create and then assess blame to others. If we can’t find a scapegoat, it falls on something ambiguous such as willpower, lack of ability, or previous failure.
For companies, maybe it’s a lack of execution. For individuals, maybe it’s a fear of trying something different.
But everyone has the ability to create a path to success—we just choose whether we want to turn it on or off, and whether we’re willing to test how high the amplitude can go.
Treat Failure as a Part of Success
When I first walked in the doors as an editor of the world’s largest men’s magazine, I came in prepared—but not in the way you think. Truth is, I wasn’t a very good editor, at least not yet.
What made me great at my job and ultimately helped me succeed is that I was prepared to fail.
My mentor, the great Ted Spiker, had warned me that I would receive a great lesson in life and that the senior editors at the magazine would make me feel like I knew nothing (which in the realm of things was accurate) and that I couldn’t be successful (something that was far from the truth).
His lesson was that my failures were not designed to teach me that I was bad; instead, they were part of the madness of learning how to become better. So each time I was schooled in the world of editorial, I took it as a lesson that would push me one step closer to the goal.
My failures were never roadblocks; they were stepping stools as long as I took the time to figure out how to make them part of my climb.
When you train a muscle, you break down the fibers, let them recover, and then come back bigger and stronger. Failure is no different, and the endless stories of stumbles and falls of some of the most successful people in the world in every avenue of life are proof of concept.
It’s important that you don’t misconstrue the message. I’m not saying achieving goals is a simple process.
Whether it’s just dropping 5 pounds or making your first sale, these are all difficult processes that can take some time. And the “just do it” mentality always requires a little bit of elbow grease and the ability to evolve and adjust.
If one plan worked for everyone we’d all be rich and obesity wouldn’t exist.
Many of us dream of making it big, and a similar number slog away in gyms or in the kitchen searching for that magical pill that will make everything better.
I have another suggestion. Don’t worry about fear or what will result from your time spent.
Stop focusing on what you don’t control and instead place all your emphasis on effort. That’s it.
We become so bogged down by “doing it right,” mastering the plan, and being perfect that we forget the foundation of all great successes and entrepreneurs: Effort.
It’s the one thing you can control. It’s endless, timeless, and proven to work. If you put in the effort you will succeed—even if the initial success is just that you tried.
Don’t lie to yourself.
Be honest when you don’t put in the time and push yourself as hard as you can.
It’s easy to push the limit when everything is going well. It’s when times are hard, when you have questions, or when things are bleak that it’s difficult to move. That’s when focusing on effort is most important.
Set your goal, push towards it, assess, and repeat.
Let effort be your guide.
Don’t let failure, or excuses, or willpower stand in your way.
Start over and over again because every beginning brings excitement, energy, and hope that you can improve.
Whether you re-launch every morning, every week, every weigh in or every quarter. Just launch. And keep launch. And do it like a space shuttle, with enough energy to propel you beyond your outermost reach.
Be an owner of your destiny and your desire. Root your foundation in effort. And as you begin to use fears instead of fear them, everything you want and desire will fall into place.