Fear, Disappointment and Failure

I’ve had a few moments of clarity in my life when I realized a truth about myself and how I should live my life. An important turning point occurred when I was deciding my career path and facing my fear of failure pursuing the academic path.   Actually, I confronted this fear more than once while in graduate school and trying to get tenure. Each time I decided I would rather do my best and fail rather than decide I was a failure before someone else did. In other words, it was better to fail following my dreams and desires rather than to quit and live with regret.

Those watershed moments occurred because a major career-path decision was required.  However, we make decisions about big and small things all day long, but just because they’re relatively minor does not make them insignificant. Are those smaller, seemingly less consequential decisions are fear- or desire-based? Is fear or desire determining the overall direction of your life, one tiny decision at a time?

Fear may be an invisible compass in your life if you’re playing it too safe. What areas of your life are you not advancing or in self-protection mode? Where are you wearing your armor or having your guard up? How does that affect your relationships and ability to move forward in your life?

Perhaps you wish to avoid failure or being hurt or disappointed. That’s completely understandable but entirely unrealistic. Life is painful, and to spend our entire life trying to avoid pain and disappointment means we also avoid joy, deep connection and innovation.

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.- Mark Zuckerberg

What would your life be like without the constant undercurrent of fear? What would you be doing? Who would you be with?

Screw it, Let’s do it! – Richard Branson