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Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. (Benjamin Franklin)


It is a curious thing, but fear of failure creates failure. Every time.

No way! I hear you cry. And of course you would think you are right, because whatever we fear we suppress or move away from, or conquer. Don’t we?

Unfortunately we don’t!

I am sure you have heard of the fight or flight syndrome. If you fear something, you will deal with it by fighting it or running from it (flighting). Or, if you don’t know whether to fight or flight, you might vacillate so much you freeze; unable to make a choice between the two.

So, if you fear failure, you probably think that you ‘deal with it’ by working so hard it will never happen any way (fighting) or by refusing to consider that it could possibly happen to you (flighting).

The only problem with trying to ‘deal’ with failure, however you choose to do it, is that it gives it a reality it might not otherwise have had.

Imagine that you have a small round light in the centre of your forehead. This is the light of your attention. Whenever you turn your head to look at something, you shine the light of your attention on it. And if you imagine a small round light illuminating small parts of the darkness all around you, you will see that this light creates shapes out of the darkness that form into reality the more you shine your light on them.

Notice the power you have to create your reality.

Now imagine that you fear making a mistake. If you tell yourself you won’t make a mistake, you inadvertently shine your light on the mistake you might make, and give it shape and form. Unfortunately, the more you tell yourself that you ‘won’t make that mistake’, the more shape and form it has. And the more attention it gets from you.

And so the cycle continues. The more attention you give to something, the more of a form it has, the more real it becomes and the more you create the reality of it. And the more real something is in your mind, the more you act ‘as if’ it exists, which further gives it shape and reality. So the more you fear making a mistake, the more likely you are to make or manifest the very mistake you fear.

At this point, many of my clients ask: ‘So how do I really avoid failure/making mistakes?’ The answer? By shining the light of your attention on the intention you really want.

If you focus on what you don’t want, you get more of it. If you focus on what you do want you get more of it.

So the first step to success is to ask yourself: ‘what do I want to achieve?’ Then as you take action towards what you want, you might notice that you make mistakes or small failures on the way towards what you want. But each failure is not an end in itself. It is the essential part of a continuous improvement learning cycle moving you ever more closely towards the successful result you really do want.

So if you notice that something you have done this past week does not get you the result you want, you know that it is the opportunity to ask yourself 3 questions:

Next time I do this, what would I …

  • Stop doing that is not working?
  • Start doing that might work better?
  • Continue doing that is already working?

And remember, failure is not doing something wrong. It is evidence that you have pointers for you on the path to success.

(c) Anne Fuller-Good


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