Many, many people have written and spoken about how failure is part of the innovation and entrepreneurship process--those who really succeed expect to fail. They learn from setbacks and adapt. Most importantly, they don't give up.
But as often as we hear that, we fear failure. We worry about it.
Here are four reasons why worrying about failure may be costing you as much or more than actually trying and experiencing a miss.
It's an inspiration killer. Fretting about a letdown is likely getting in the way of your powerful, visionary thinking.
If you can set aside the worry about not getting it right, you can concentrate on finding and acting on inspiration. That's essential because empires were not built on worry of loss--they have always been built on vision and inspiration. No matter the size of the failure you may experience, it will not compare in any way to blocking your inspiration.
Hesitation destroys motivation. Waiting, hesitating and waffling over whether or not you'll fail is absolutely lethal to motivation.
Hesitation coupled with worry is bottled negative energy. No one can live on that let alone succeed. And if you spend too much time hesitating over an important decision, it becomes impossible to stay motivated and do the important things you know should be done. By undermining your motivation, you're actually making your venture more likely to stumble. If you're going to fail, don't wait--get to it.
Delay is expensive. Book a flight leaving tomorrow--I dare you.
In addition to delay crushing your motivation, delay costs money. Almost nothing will be less expensive tomorrow than it is today. Even if you overcome your fear of failure and act, the time it slowed you down can put a big dent in your bottom line. Which, ironically, also makes you more likely to fail--not less.
Opportunities lost. Anyone who has tried anything, even non-business ventures, will tell you opportunity cost is real.
For those who don't know opportunity cost, it's the value of the thing you give up by choosing the thing you did. Think shelf-space in a store. By choosing to stock fruit, you can't sell vegetables. But worrying about failing is even worse because, in that example, you're missing out on selling vegetables because you're leaving your shelves empty.
What if someone else also had the idea for Facebook but was worried about failing and waited to get started? There's no way to put a value on that missed opportunity--but it's likely in the billions.
The bottom line is that failure can be brutal and expensive. But when you consider what worrying about it actually costs you, it's usually a far, far better to jump off the cliff instead of focusing obsessively about the landing. Jumping is the only way anyone every flies.