What’s your attitude to risk? What's the fear of failure costing you?
We all have different levels of risk tolerance, but most of us share the anxiety of the potential financial or reputational loss associated with risk taking in the workplace.
As your career progresses, the downside risk of making a big change is often perceived as being far greater than the upside. The opportunity cost holds you back. Concerns about mortgage payments and family responsibilities weigh heavily on your mind and affect big decisions about the future.
Risk taking also opens us up to the judgement of others. How will we be perceived if we chose a different path and fail? Although nobody likes to be vulnerable, it’s often only through having the strength to be so, that we are able to take risks needed to become the best versions of ourselves.
So, what’s the problem with being risk adverse if you already have a comfortable life? It could be argued that opting for the safe path is the best means of securing a successful future. This may have been a good strategy in the Information Age, but, as we shift to the Conceptual Age, where creativity, problem solving and innovation are often more highly valued than technical skills, there's an increasing need to embrace uncertainty and take calculated risks in order to achieve success in business. Those unable or unwilling to do so may be left behind, as they fail to deliver the results expected of them.
We often irrationally associate the concept of failure with disaster, not fully considering what failing actually means in a specific context. Many of us instinctively catastrophise the idea of failure, believing the worst will happen without contemplating what that means.
By removing this sense of irrational uncertainty, it's possible to overcome this fear of failure and move towards a vision of success. Make a start by working through the following steps:
STEP 1 - CREATE A VISION
Establish a vision of success, by identifying and exploring what you really want:
- What does success look like?
- What will achieving my goals do for me?
- How will it make me feel?
STEP 2 - EMBRACE THE FEAR
Think about the cost and impact of living with fear and inaction:
- What is not taking risks costing me?
- How’s it affecting my life?
- How does it make me feel?
STEP 3 - RATIONALISE FAILURE
Remove the uncertainty associated with potential failure and think about how you would cope with that outcome:
- What’s the worst that can happen if it doesn't work out?
- How would I deal with it?
STEP 4 - IDENTIFY OBSTACLES
List the challenges and obstacles that are preventing you from taking the risks to achieve your vision.
- What’s stopping me from achieving my goals?
- What else is standing in my way?
STEP 5 - FOCUS ON SUCCESS
Imagine what life would be like if you could overcome those obstacles:
- If I could overcome these obstacles what would that do for me?
- What would it give me?
- How would it make me feel?
STEP 6 - TAKE A FIRST STEP
The final outcome of your vision may seem a long way off and the task ahead might feel overwhelming. Break the journey down into a series of achievable steps and milestones:
- What's a first step that I can take towards my vision?
- How can I challenge myself to take that step?
STEP 7 - BE ACCOUNTABLE
Ensure that you're motivated and accountable for taking the first step by setting parameters and a deadline for achieving it. Make yourself accountable to a friend, colleague or family member:
- When will I achieve the first step by?
- Who will I tell that I'm doing this?
- How will they hold me accountable?
These 7 steps are just a starting point. Working with a professional coach can help create a far more realistic, informed and balanced view of a risk situation, creating courage and confidence by removing much of the uncertainty that gives rise to the fear of failure and adversity to risk. Once defined, the worst potential outcome of a situation is usually not as catastrophic as originally feared. Contemplating how a negative outcome would be resolved is a powerful way of taking control and reducing the anxiety associated with the unknown.
If you’d like to start overcoming your fears and take control of your life, rather than letting life control you, then sign up for a FREE Coaching Consultation today.