Fear of Failure

Fear of failure acts as a handicap to many of us. So it is necessary to understand this fear.

When we allow something to stop us from carrying out our work…work that can take us forward to achieve our goals; we need to recognise it as our fear of failure.

I am Satish Kakri and I will talk about this malady by explaining five facts of this Fear.

  1. Definition
  2. Symptoms
  3. Causes
  4. Ill effects
  5. Remedy through The Bhagavad Gita

Fear of failure is known as ‘atychiphobia’. Like many other phobias it’s an aspect of personality which always stands in the way of our progress. This hinders our growth by lowering our confidence, erodes our will power and attacks our discipline. It may be a part of another mood disorder like anxiety, worry, eating more, etc.
Therefore it is necessary to understand and ensure that atychiphobia is eradicated from our personality.

You tend to become physically fatigued and mentally drained.
Lose all initiative to do anything new. Laziness becomes your habit. The situation does not allow you to think creatively. Personal initiative goes missing. You don’t want to work on anything that requires application of mind or physical hard work. Habit of procrastination ruins your daily routine.

There are many causes for the fear of failure. Conspicuous among them are unsupportive parents. They keep on repeating to the child that ‘you are good for nothing’. Bullies in the school or society also contribute to heighten the fear.
Our education system in India is also responsible for adding to the fear of failure in the minds of students. They are judged only on the basis of their scores in the final exams. No life skills are taught. It is not a part of curriculum.
In fact the system creates graduates without any practical knowledge about how to deal with life and its problems. Social prejudices form yet another cause to contribute to the malady.

Ill Effects:
As a result of this fear of failure, the person suffers a lot. One remains always tired & fatigued. The individual starts worrying on even small things. Chronic overthinking badly affects the health of the person. Emotional intelligence goes for a toss. The ability to face difficult situations or difficult people goes down the drain. The person starts thinking life is a burden and not worth living.

How to remove the Fear of Failure and the role of the Bhagavad Gita?

The Bhagavad Gita gives the best solution. The core message of Gita is that everyone must perform his/her duty without attachment. No doubt attachment is the main culprit for our fear of failure. Our attachment to the desired results and uncertainty associated with it aggravates the fear.
In chapter 1 Arjun expresses to Lord Krishna that he doesn’t want to fight the battle with his own relatives because war will result in killing his own people on both the sides. Killing one’s elders respected people teachers even grandfathers and other revered people will only result in total disaster of the families.
Further, he says that he doesn’t not know who will win. Thus Arjun is deeply attached to the results and totally ignores his duty to fight the righteous war.

Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna that one has to perform one’s duty without any attachment. The moment you are not attached to the result, fear of failure vanishes. As there is nothing to loose, there won’t be any fear. Attachment is the root cause of all sufferings.

According to the psychologists there are a number of steps that need to be taken to remove the fear of failure. These are like understanding situation, finding alternatives, strengthening will power, controlling emotions, understanding dangers of life etc. Bhagavad Gita addresses all these issues.

Two major lessons of Gita are:
That one must perform one’s duty without attachment, without fear or remorse. They should not be afraid of even death. Soul in immortal. It never dies. Soul just changes body.

Gita seeks to empower you to overcome the biggest human fear- the fear of death itself. In such a case, no other lesser fear including the Fear of Failure will stop you from working your way up.. to reach your target. Without the Fear of failure you wholeheartedly work and achieve your goal!

Five Steps to turn Failure in to success

Failure is one necessary step towards achieving anything which is significant. Failure needs to be accepted, as fear of failure never allows you to take any risks. It pushes you into inaction which is the bane of life. Inaction is worse than procrastination. In any one’s life, procrastination is the enemy of a strong personality. It fills you with guilt which goes on increasing. Though failure has many negative effects, there are also some positive outcomes. In this essay, I would like to discuss both the negative and positive attributes of the failure. More importantly, I will put forth some suggestions on how we can leverage the positive aspects of failure and use it as a tool to propel us towards achieving our mission.
Negative aspects of failure are listed below:
i) It discourages you. Sometimes you get into depression as you feel you are good for nothing.
ii) It affects our positivity. It tends to weaken our hope and brings in a streak of pessimism in our life.
iii) We start avoiding company of our successful peers which dampens our spirits. This in turn weakens our personality.
iv) Sometimes, it may make you feel that life is good for nothing. It is not worth living. You want to escape. In worst cases, it pushes people to try to commit suicide.
v) In order to cover the loss due to failure, it may make the victim reckless. Trying to cover losses without proper thinking, the person plunges into bigger problems, debts etc.
vi) Often, failure leads to addiction. In a bid to escape facing the realities of life the ‘failed person’ resorts to drinking, drugs etc.
vii) Failure brings social stigma whereby people look down upon you. No one likes to be in the company of someone who has failed. Failure is not accepted as a part of struggle for success is some societies.
viii) It is sad but the victim is often ridiculed to make matters worse. Instead of helping to pull the person out of trouble those who had harbored some kind of grudge enjoy putting spanner in the wheel. The victim suffers even more.
ix) Extreme anxiety attacks the mind and the victim starts doubting everything. Suspicion brings further misery to the life of the victim.
x) Besides, failure may result in sleeplessness. It aggravates the difficulties and problems. It also affects health and weakens the mind.
So much for the negative impact of failure. Positive results of failure are also many, if the failure is viewed in the proper perspective. How the failure impacts a person or an organization depends on your immediate response after the failure takes place. If you own the failure and analyze the reasons, failure turns a teacher. Best lessons are drawn only from failures. But if you start the blame game and assign reasons of your failure to some people, sabotage or even the circumstances to give yourself a clean chit the failure snowballs into worse failure.
These are many reasons why failure should be viewed positively. I will list 5 which are most important according to some psychologists. These are:
i) As said above, failure acts as a teacher. Follow the lessons learned in a failed attempt and don’t repeat the same. Lessons learnt during failed projects, when put to practice and adopted suitably, shape the character.
ii) Failure inspires you to innovate. If one thing does not work, you try another. All scientific inventions are based on this aspect a failure. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. But I have found out 10,000 ways in which things don’t work”.
iii) Failure is used for quality enhancement. For any product, the quality department will try to find out the circumstances in which the product fails. But for software programmers this is just a necessary tool.
iv) Failure enables individuals to face facts of life. It helps you to understand that struggle in life is necessary. This is the only way you can come up.
v) The worst factor in anyone’s life is fear. Failure helps you to overcome your inherent fear and makes you courageous. Further, you develop courage to take calculated risks in life. This is necessary as the dictum – no risk no gains.
Having talked about the negative and positive aspects of failure, let us deal with the question, “How negative effects of failure can be countered and how can we turn failure into success? I give below the answer as 5 steps that we must take to achieve the desired results.
Step I. Be prepared to accept failure. For any venture which poses some risks you must be prepared for the worst at the beginning itself.  In this case you will be able to handle the situation because you are not taken by surprise.
Step II. Create a strong desire in your mind to succeed in spite of the grave difficulties on the way. Become prepared to face the difficulties and work hard. Don’t expect the task to be easy. You strong desire will help you to adopt this attitude.
Step III. Open your mind to embrace any change that you may have to make in your plan of action. World is changing fast and there is no science to inform you what changes will take place and when. Your open mindedness will come to your rescue.
Step IV. Develop your mind power. Comfort or discomfort resides only in mind. While a heavy traffic cannot deter someone from enjoying listening to the music in cool comfort of an air-conditioned car, it can be a harrowing experience for another soul who is not prepared to adopt the change.
Step V) Last but not the least, choose a role model. There are many great world leaders who have embraced many failures before coming out as great winners. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela or Steve Jobs- who was turned out the company he started, are just a few examples.
Therefore, choose your role model. Read and understand his/her life. Draw your own lessons and go ahead with your projects.
When we focus only on the positive attributes of failure during the journey of the work involved, we will be rid of the harmful impact of so many of the negative attributes of failure. So our attitude and choice of actions make all the difference.
Thanks for reading.

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