When I started coaching musicians I wasn’t surprised to find that
fear of failure came up almost more than anything else.
This generalised, vaguely defined fear causes procrastination, perfectionism and “not being in the mood”. And at it’s worst this fear of failure can lead to creative block or burnout. I’m sure it even stops many from taking their first step.
So I declared war on fear and discovering how to overcome fear of failure moved to the top of my list of priorities. And after many different approaches, I found that the simplest solution was the most effective.
Most people don’t realise how much the language they use affects how they think, feel and behave. But even though language is the medium you use to describe and interact with the world around you, it isn’t a one way street. Not only does your language describe your experience, it creates it.
Yes, you use words to describe your experiences to others, but you also use words to describe your experiences to yourself. And by using words like failure, what do you expect you are doing? That’s right, setting yourself up for it.
In fact I believe that the word failure is probably singlehandedly responsible for more dashed hopes and dreams than any other in the English language. So I want you to try something. Banish the word failure from your vocabulary. And replace it with another F word:
By thinking about the results of your efforts as feedback, not success or failure,
every result is a win, even if those results are different from your expectations.
What’s more, disappointing results will give you feedback that is more useful. I mean, aren’t you sick of well meaning friends and family telling you that your stuff is “great” or “nice”? Where does that get you? Nowhere fast…
So remove failure from your vocabulary immediately and replace it with feedback.
You’ll work quicker, finish more and enjoy it because you’ll get addicted to the feedback. I know I did.
And more than learning how to overcome fear of failure, you’ll become fearless when you experience how much quicker you improve with disappointing feedback.
So finish it, put it out, seek out that feedback. What are you scared of?