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January 17, 2014

Do we have to fear failure?

NORMAN — Fear of failure is a prominent fear in most of our lives. For some, it results in a drive for perfection. And anything less than perfection is seen as failure.

Friends and family members with perfectionistic expectations are difficult to live with and are miserable within themselves. They are driven by fear, and they are never satisfied with themselves or with others.

Another consequence of this fear is an unwillingness to try. Fear of failure can create an internal logic that says, “I can’t fail if I don’t try.”

How many fun, adventurous learning experiences have we missed out on because we were afraid to try? How many relationships have remained stagnant because we were afraid to try something new?

Procrastination is a third consequence of fear of failure. The logic of procrastination is interesting. It goes something like this: “If I wait until the last minute, I will have an excuse for my failure.” (“I did the best I could with the limited time I had,” “I stayed up all night working on it. I could barely keep my eyes open,” etc.) If we succeed, we feel lucky. If we fail, we have a built-in excuse.

There are alternatives to this fear. One of the alternatives is to understand that a mistake or failure is something that we learn from, rather than something that defines us.

When we make a mistake, it is something we have done, not something we are. We are not all-knowing. We will make mistakes. God has made it clear that He defines us by what His son did for us on the cross, not by what we do

When we make a mistake, it is something we have done, not something we are.

It also is important to keep in mind that this earth is not our real home. We are described as strangers in a foreign land. What others around us describe as failure may not be failure at all.

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