Everyone struggles with the fear of failure, especially when it comes to starting new endeavors. The thought of being unsuccessful often keeps us from heading down a new road. Failure wins before something is even conceived. How many inventions weren't invented because of self-doubt? How many businesses were never started due to this fear? How many people avoid following their passions and dreams because they worry they can't cut it? The answers to these question is, unfortunately: too many. The good news, however, is that the fear of failure can be overcome. Some believe that discipline is the easiest way to overcome this fear. While relying on disciple works for some, I have found something else: devotion. My devotion to the mission surpasses my fears.
Devotion and Passion
Devotion is defined by Merriam-Webster as the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal. For me, while I am a naturally risk-adverse person, I find that I have the greatest amount of dedication and loyalty to those things I have the most passion for. This is fairly straightforward. I am passionate about my family and am therefore highly devoted to them. Devoted to their success. Devoted to taking care of them. Devoted to seeing they are given desired opportunities.
But devotion isn't always present for everything that is important. You see, considering something to be important and having passion for something are two entirely different things. For example, I know that it is important for me to exercise. Really important. My grandfather died of a heart-attack in his mid-fifties. Over the years, I have kept this in mind and knew that long-term exercise is imperative for my health. While I have done well at times, my consistency has always seemed to be cyclical.
Discipline vs. Devotion
At first, I tried to rely on discipline when it came to exercise. If only I could get up at the same time and just push through when I wasn't really feeling it. But I am not a disciplined person. I am a creative person who cringes at the idea of doing the same thing each day. So my pattern always seemed to be that I would get excited about exercising because of how I felt and looked, and I would do well until the excitement died down. My discipline wasn't enough to keep me going. My problem was that I didn't have a clear reason as to why I was exercising. I didn't have a clear mission.
Devotion to the Mission
Having a clear mission provides us with the "why" that fuels us to keep on. A mission gives us passion, which gives us the energy, excitement, and dedication to keep pushing forward. For my health, my mission is to be healthy so that I can support and enjoy my family well beyond my mid-fifties. I am devoted to the mission because I am devoted to the desired outcome the mission will accomplish.
This holds true in business. If our employees are passionate about what they are doing, they will often do whatever it takes to achieve a desired outcome. If we loose passion, however, we will begin to procrastinate now and then. We will start putting off doing things we find only slightly intimidating. Picking up the phone becomes more difficult. Making that needed sales call gets placed further down on the list. Therefore, it is important to ensure that we are fully devoted to what we do.
Steps for Overcoming Fears
- Understand Your "Why." In order to overcome our fears through devotion, we must understand the big picture and long-term goal we are trying to achieve. For example, making a sales call can be an intimating task where we can fear being rejected by a prospect. But understanding a mission that we must grow our business by the end of the year in order to create two new jobs, we will find it much easier to be devoted to the mission. This devotion will prove much easier than relying on discipline to just go through the motions of making yet another unsuccessful sales call.
- Establish a Mission Statement. Writing out a clear mission statement for a certain task or project helps to serve as reinforcement in times where our passion fades and discipline fails us. Revisit the mission statement on a daily or even hourly basis if needed. Over time, the mission will be ingrained and your devotion will easily surpass any fear of failure.
- Discuss the Mission. Discussing the mission with like-minded peers will help to reinforce why you are doing what you are doing. Discussing the mission also helps to create synergies as others start to understand your true goals. I have heard some of the best sales people say that sharing their goals with customers significantly increases their success rate.