Leadership is for the brave. Whether you’re managing people, winning clients, starting a new business or making tough executive decisions, the best leaders are constantly faced with the challenge of overcoming their fears. According to Vanessa Loder, a contributing writer for Forbes, the fear of failure is a basic aspect of human nature that is rooted in the ego.
“Every entrepreneur I know is afraid of failure,” Loder wrote. “It’s human nature. When we go outside of our comfort zone, we feel scared. As entrepreneurs, our ego and identity become so wrapped up in what we are doing, that when things do not go as we expect, we can literally feel like we are going to die.”
The place outside of your comfort zone is exactly where you are going to find your greatest successes. It is true, however, that fear can be a healthy, positive motivator for many aspiring leaders. Boland Jones, founder and CEO of PGi ,pointed out in Entrepreneur that fear often provides leaders the push they need to succeed and take important risks toward meeting their life goals. Fear can certainly be your ally, but if you are going to succeed in the the leadership realm and bring your goals into fruition, you must not let your fear of failure control you. Here are five tips for overcoming your fear of failure:
- Trust your gut
You can’t be a leader and you can’t manage people if you don’t trust your gut. Gut feelings are what guide some of the most brilliant leaders to make risky decisions that either save a company or launch it toward the next level of success. If you want people to respect you, you must have the ability to display confidence in your decisions. As a result, people will have more confidence in you. Similarly, you will have more confidence in yourself. By trusting your gut, you give yourself the opportunity to move away from restricting pros and cons lists. Instead of weighing out the riskiness of a decision you want to make, go with your intuition and what you believe to be right. You may still feel fear, but you will be one step closer to leading in spite of it.
To reach your goals, you must take risks and overcome your fears.
- Surround yourself with ambitious people
Chances are, you’ve been told since childhood to surround yourself with people who will be a good influence on you. Risk takers in your social sphere will inspire you to take on challenges you never would have considered before. They’ll also show you what it’s like to fail and how easy it is to overcome failure. If the people in your life are ambitious and willing to take business risks you will be influenced to do the same.
- Let your goals guide you
A key strategy for overcoming your fear of failure is setting small, realistic goals that lead to your ultimate goal. As Loder wrote in Forbes, one of the first things you should to is to reframe your goals to encompass the opportunity to learn something new. This way, even if you do fail, each step along the way will have provided value to your experience and contributed to your leadership growth. Further, when setting your smaller goals, make sure some scary ones are thrown in there. The more comfortable you get with taking risks, the more likely you are to take that final leap in the end.
- Understand the source
The more time you spend understanding the root of your fears, the more likely you will be to overcome them. We all have anxieties that hinder us. Whether you are supporting a family, hoping to impress a family member or yearning for a life much greater than your predecessors, each of these circumstances have the potential to lead us to take the safe route. Coming face-to-face with your fears, untangling them and moving forward is an essential step forward for your professional and personal growth.
“The more time you spend understanding the root of your fears, the more likely you will be to overcome them.”
- Work with a mentor
Your friends, family and other members of your social sphere can only push you so far. Everyone should have a mentor, from entry-level employees to C-suite executives. Mentors challenge us, encourage us and give us the essential advice we need to overcome our fears and meet our goals. If you don’t have a mentor, you may also consider one on one business coaching as a valuable tool.
- Choose failure over regret
There are no guarantees that you won’t fail. In fact, if you are in a leadership position or starting your own business, failure is inherent to everything you do. We are confronted with failure every day, yet the best leaders choose to move forward and assume that risk, because the feeling of regret is far worse than failure. If you need that extra shove in the right direction, visualize yourself having never pursued your goals, and compare that feeling to the fear of potential failure.