What’s holding you back? Part 3 – Fear of Failure


Welcome back to our series on what holds us back from our goals. Last time we talked about how being afraid of what other people will say can hold us back. You can check out that post here. Today we’re going to talk about how being afraid of failing can hold us back. 

I like being good at things. I hate failing. I especially hate failing publicly. There’s just something about knowing I can’t do something that I can’t stand. Which means I tend to avoid the unknown. That’s not really a good thing. Is that a valid reason to not try new things? No, but if you’re here too, we can relate. 

So, how are we going to get through this? Let’s think back. Have you ever tried anything that didn’t work out, at least at first? I have. The book I’m querying now is on its third pitch. The first two were rejections. And they hurt. But I survived, and nobody told me I can never write again. My little book baby is still out there, and it still has a chance to be published. Being told no before doesn’t make it any less likely to succeed next time. 

Alright, so we’ve survived failure in the past. How can we reduce our chances of failing? Other than, you know, not trying. One, we can be as prepared as possible. I did research and spent hours getting my query ready and picking just the right agency. In the end, it wasn’t enough. But I have learned some every time I submit it. So there’s a lot to be said for practice. In a way, the more no’s I hear, the better I get. 

Second, we need to not rush things. Kids keep training wheels until their balance on bikes has gotten better. Then off comes the safety net. I’ve gone in circles with my book-in-query, because I knew for a long time it wasn’t ready. There’s no need to fail when it’s not necessary. At some point though, we have to get rid of the safety net. The skydiver has to jump out of the plane instead of just off the wooden platform. A motivational speaker has to talk in front of real people. And I had to hit send on an email. 

Third, we can work our way up. An aspiring singer should probably tackle local talent shows and audiences before trying for a national stage (although I have seen some pretty good first time performers on The Voice). I started writing a blog before considering sending my writing to an agent. 

Fourth, be sure that what you’re trying to achieve is where you should be. If I could pick a single talent I’d most like to have, it would probably be singing. Being somewhat realistic, I know that isn’t my best skill. Sure, I still sing in church, and I daydream with every new season of The Voice. But it wouldn’t make sense for me to try to become the next pop star. Whether writing really works out remains to be seen, but I feel like it is where I have the most to give. Instead of focusing on what you wish you could do, pick a goal where you already have some natural talent and are willing to throw yourself into learning as much as you can. You’ll need both. 

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When we crash our bikes, let’s use it as a chance to depend on God. When we realize we can’t be self-sufficient we grow in trust and faith. God is bigger than any disappointment we can face. 

If becoming a New York Times bestselling author was easy, I would have been one three years ago. Success is a lot talent and a lot more work. And it’s not all or nothing. I have several goals for my writing, but if my only measure of success was reaching a bestseller list, I’d be setting myself up for disappointment. The thing is, if I can get my writing published and find out it made a positive impact in someone’s life, that is success for me. We’ll automatically fail if we don’t have a standard for success or it’s not realistic. Because either we won’t know when we achieve success, or we are determined success means best. Which is not true. Think about your three favorite authors. What if two of them didn’t write because they aren’t as popular as the other? 

Dream. Dream big. But realize that failure doesn’t mean success will never come. You usually have to get through one to make it to the other. If, when, we fail let’s keep going. Because what good is there in stopping?

How about you? How do you get through failures?

May the Lord bless and keep you,


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