I sat through a training program for a group of middle managers today, and as I heard many of them talk about their fears’ in life, it struck me that so many of them are afraid of failure ?
And I began to wonder, what drives us to be afraid of failure ? Is it the fear of the consequences of failure ? Is it the fear of rejection ? Is it the fear of ‘falling’ in somebody’s eyes ?
I said to myself………why should I be afraid of failure ?
I am afraid of not failing.
If I am not failing, I am not stretching enough. If I am not failing, I am not doing things differently; not trying new things. Failure to me is an opportunity, because each failure gives me the chance to standup and try again. Each failure teaches me a lesson that I could not have learnt otherwise.
But as I asked myself, if I am not afraid, why are all these managers afraid ? What makes them afraid ? Have we, as leaders, become less tolerant of others’ failures than our bosses were, when we were younger ? Are we rewarding success to the extent that ‘not winning’ is not an option any longer ? Have we tried to reward failure ? We coach our teams’ on winning, but have we spent time with our teams’ to coach them on the value of failure ?
I am afraid of a company, or a country in which its leaders are afraid of failure. Failure is the pre-requisite for progress…..nobody has achieved greatness without failing.
I think each of us has to stop and ask ourselves….are we afraid of failure ? If yes, why ? Has anything bad come to us when we failed ? Or are we using this as a ‘cover’ for not trying, for not taking decisions?
And as a leader, I perhaps have failed, if my team is afraid of failure. But this too is a lesson……and I am not afraid of this failure.