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Why Fear of Failure is So Funny

{Photo by Tim Walker}

I want you to ask yourself: What’s the worst that will happen if you fail at your business?

Be honest and write it out:

  • Deplete savings account

  • Have to go on food stamps

  • Have to sell the car

  • Have to move back in with your parents

  • Have to move to a smaller apartment

  • Have to go back to an old job/get a job

  • Have to take your child out of daycare

As you’re writing out your worst case scenario, are you realizing how unlikely it is that it would happen?  I’m betting you would come up with quite a few steps to take before phoning your mum to ask about the state of the basement.  Yes, you MAY have to move into a smaller apartment but if that’s your worst case scenario, you have it much better than most people in this world.

When we have a big decision to make and the fear of failure confronts us, we tend to overreact.  Sort of like how a chair with a coat on it becomes a short axe-murderer at night.  Suddenly that little voice in your head tells you you’ll never make as much money as you need.  You’ll sell one of your newest product despite all the time and money you put into it.  Or worst of all…you’ll never sell anything ever again.

So let’s get real about fear.

I’m going to be honest here and tell you something that most ‘successful’ entrepreneurs will never tell you: we all suffer from fear of failure and it’s definitely not a pretty time for us.  Every three months I fall into this pit of despair.  It’s always after a hugely successful week or sale or show.  I get this overpowering fear that I will never be able to replicate what I just did.  Then I’ll go two days without a sale and suddenly I feel certain no one will ever buy from me again.  I’ll have to live on the streets while handing out frozen yoghurt at the nearest TCBY.

It’s not till I say these fear out loud (usually amid sobs and a cuddle with a pillow) that I realize how stupid and unrealistic those fears are.  (Plus how silly it is to be crying into my pillow and not my boyfriend’s.)  Almost immediately I grit my teeth and come up with a dozen new ways to market my business.  I refuse to fail.  I refuse to give up.  The universe always seems to be listening because, without fail, the next day I’ll receive an email that knocks my socks off.

Fear of failure is an inherent part of working for yourself.  How you choose to confront that fear is what determines if you stay in business or close up shop.

If you do fail, at least you went down fighting.  Plus, there is nothing that says you can’t get right back up and start again.  If I had to go to work at TCBY, you can bet I’d be plotting out my next adventure away from frozen yoghurt almost immediately!


Megan Eckman

Megan Eckman has written 146 posts in this blog.

Megan Eckman is a quirky pen and ink illustrator who never outgrew her overactive imagination. Her work merges the style of old fairy tale illustrations with modern fantasies. When she’s not drawing (and giggling all the while), she can be found pacing her apartment writing more stories to go with her artwork.

What say you?