The Varying "Fear of Failure"s

My two sons are very different in their approach to failure. My oldest will not give up. He was the kid who tried stairs over and over and OVER again until he finally mastered getting to the top without falling. To him, failure was a sign that something absolutely MUST be accomplished. As he's gotten older, this is still the case... BUT he only wants his "practice" to be done in private so that people only see his 100% success.

My younger son is much different. He didn't TRY stairs for ages. He never attempted the first one; instead he played contently on the ground. Then one day, he wanted to go up to his bedroom and climbed the whole flight without pausing. At the time, he would rather wait until he KNEW he could do it without failing AT ALL, than try when there was a possibility it might not work. As he's gotten older, this is still the case... BUT he's now in situations where there's a growth process that isn't solely reliant on him "being ready" (i.e. school).

These are two VERY different ends of the spectrum, but I'd argue most people fall at one of these two extremes at various points (myself included). So here is the advice I give to my kiddos, that I often later repeat quietly to myself.

To the one who doesn't give up while also not wanting to be seen "in the process": You have great perseverance; don't be afraid to lean into that. However, know that as you grow, you won't always be able to try and fail in private. At some point, you're going to need to be willing to put yourself out there, and you won't be able to guarantee that it will be perfect. Secondly, when you expect perfection of yourself, you'll pass this expectation onto everyone around you. Give yourself space to succeed and space to try new things, space to be seen and space to lead people in a very real and powerful way.

To the one who only wants to do things he knows will work the first time: You are a phenomenal analyzer. However, your life is so much bigger than who you are right now, and to grow into that person, you need to be willing to... grow. That means trying things to figure them out, rather than focusing on analyzing things from a distance. So... just do your best. I've seen it. Your best is greater than you think is, and your best is going to take you powerful places. Try it, see what happens, adjust, and enjoy the process of learning.

To you: When you are looking at a possibility, an option, or something daunting in your future, don't just call it "fear of failure" and move on. Take a moment to get to know yourself. What about it is tripping you up? What pieces of it make you excited/cringe/laugh/cry/reach out to others for wisdom/close your doors and pray? If you can know the part that brings on those feelings, you'll know what to be aware of in the future. Because we all have our tendencies. And tendencies are not bad as long as we use them as indicators rather than bowing down to them as lords. 

For Generosity, 
Lisa

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