Nothing builds confidence like taking a risk… and failing. I know - who wants to talk about failures? I urge you to read through this - and I promise you will find some new techniques to overcome these fears and see failure in a whole new light.
I once believed that to achieve the goals outside my comfort zone I needed to be more self-confident. Full disclosure - I admit this belief still runs deep for me even though the research says that the opposite is the case:
You must do the things that scare you in
order to build confidence.
You will cultivate confidence through risk, failure and changing how you think.
We actually can’t talk about success and not think about failures. Plenty of failures.
Many years ago I stopped looking at those things that didn’t turn out they way I had planned or wanted too as “failures” but rather the next opportunity for me to get to where I was supposed to be in life.
I can remember just a few years ago interviewing for a job, and it was my second round of interviews. It was a panel interview with about 4 or 5 individuals from the board of directors interviewing me. One women asked me to describe a time where I experienced failure on the job and how I handled it.
I actually laughed out loud and said “A time? As in ONE TIME?” They all kind of looked at me shocked. And I was kind of shocked too – such an honest answer that probably wasn’t going to come off too well!
I told them I viewed failure as part of the success process. That through failure I had actually learned more about how to succeed, how to grow and how to be better, how to find resilience in myself, how to lick my wounds and still show up the next day, how to grow stronger but not bitter.
I admitted I had many failures on the job (hiring the wrong people, not receiving a grant I had applied for, testing out a new system that didn’t work, a program that I developed that didn’t pan out...you catch my drift). I didn’t get that job – and I didn’t look at it as a failure.
I looked at it at getting one step closer to where I needed to be in life. This shift in thinking, really, a radical shift in thinking, afforded me new growth. New ways of thinking. New ways of learning. Expanding my beliefs. Expanding my understanding of who I was. Understanding that It was part of the process.
I understood there was no way I was going to succeed in life if I didn’t take risks. And with risks, come failures which, if with just the smallest shift in thinking can become growth opportunity.
Failure is a fact of life - missteps, foibles and fall-flat-on-your-face moments are unavoidable. But most of us have developed deeply rooted strategies to avoid the risk of failure.
Learning is also a fact of life. Yet, to find what works, you have to discover what doesn't work… and this involves failing.
But failure has consequences, both tangible and emotional.
Failure triggers our survival instinct. Just the fear of failure or imagining engaging in something that feels like a risk will trigger a stress response. Feelings of shame, inadequacy, fear and even blame (offloading the hurt you feel and avoiding difficult emotions) might be your default reactions. And there is nothing like a good failure to wake up your inner critic.
In fact, there is no way for me to talk about any success I’ve had in my life without also talking about the failures. You see – the failures are where I learned the most. The most about myself and how to live life on life’s terms.
Keep reading for 7 ways to re-wire your brain against the fear of failure and how to gain confidence...
The Importance of Failure
Fear of failure can keep you stuck in life, as will how you react when you have failed.
Yet failing, and learning from it using a growth mind-set, is what moves us into mastery. And this involves taking risks - engaging in that which lies beyond our sense of comfort.
It is one of those wonderful paradoxes of life.
We avoid taking risks because we don't feel confident in our ability to avoid failure, yet taking risks and moving through failures is what builds confidence! ~Delaney Tosh~
What We Tell Ourselves Matters
When you are carrying the emotional baggage of having failed or faced down something that feels very risky, it can be a challenge to to see the excellent benefits that failure provides - in particular to increase your confidence.
A great starting place is to first understand that how you respond to failure either undermines or supports your growth and confidence.
Research by psychologist, Zach Estes, has demonstrated that what we tell ourselves at the outset plays a role in our performance.
People who tell themselves they're not going to be able to perform well, don't.
But when the same group of underperformers were told they could likely solve the study's test, they performed just as well as the other groups in the study; so even if we initially lack confidence we can usually perform at least as well as anyone else, especially when we tell ourselves we are capable.
Furthermore, the act of doing boosts our confidence. If we want to rewire our brains towards confidence we have to be in action, both when we fear failure and when we have failed.
7 Ways to Rewire Your Brain to Take Risks and Build Confidence:
Notice your language so you can better derail any negative spiral thinking which has them stay stuck in story… and in the stress response:
Build your self-awareness around the emotional reactions you are having, and how this influences your behavior:
Develop a more realistic and compassionate reaction to a failure or possible failure:
How can you shift your thoughts from "I am bad, I failed" to, "The situation didn't work out, yet I am capable of learning and problem-solving"?
Connect with your values, strengths and inner sage voice:
Explore what it is to have a growth mindset:
What if you let go of perfectionism and self-judgment and embrace the fact that failures are to be expected?
What becomes possible if you shift their perspective?
What can you learn from this situation?
How can you cultivate optimism and a sense of capacity?
Shift into action thinking:
How can I contain this problem and limit its scope?
What are ways to reduce the negative outfall?
What are ways to increase the up-side?
What do I have control over?
What part did I play in contributing to this problem?
What am I learning from this?
What outside perspective can I seek to gain a more objective meta-view?
How can I best respond?
What resources do I have? What are my capabilities that I could draw on?
What resources do I need?
Take time to really celebrate not only your successes, but also the learning that comes from failure. Research is indicating this also helps rewire the brain for resilience. Ask questions like:
What did I learn from this situation?
What are you proud of in how you handled it?
What would I do differently next time?
Don't stop here! Take your mindset to the next level and overcome these fears and embrace growth and opportunity – sign up today for this simple and easy self-paced online program: Move Beyond Fear – Live Your Best Life. Click HERE for more info!