The Roadblock: Why do so many people struggle to take steps toward meeting their goals and dreams? The answer is simple -- for most, it is the fear of failure that blocks the road to success.
Where does this fear come from? We often ruminate about our past failures or get bogged down by self-sabotaging thoughts. The key is to refute them once they arise. Make a note of your thoughts -- write them down if possible. Noticing what you are thinking and making an effort to replace defensive and unproductive thoughts with more optimistic and more productive ones, will give you a much better chance of achieving your goals. Once you've done this, take the time to carefully devise your plan of action.
Risky Business: The reality is that there is no way you can achieve anything if you are not willing to take some risk. I'm not talking about diving off a cliff into unknown waters -- I am referring to calculated risk. Think through the pros and cons of a situation or a decision. Discuss your ideas with other wise and experienced people. The key is not to get caught up in "analysis paralysis." Once you have done your due diligence, you must put your game plan into action.
Many years ago, I discovered a method to conquer fear head-on, in the moment. I was General Manager at a national hotel chain, and I was only 25 years old. My supervisor at the time taught me an indispensable lesson in leadership and risk-taking. Before making any decision, he challenged me to ask myself the following:
What is the worst thing that can happen?
Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. When you step back and put the situation in perspective -- and can live with the answer -- you will have the freedom to take more risks.
Step-by-Step: Now you're ready to take action. However, you can have the best creative vision or the best ideas, yet it will fall flat if you don't know how to take that idea or vision and implement it. This is where the real work is. It requires a sense of discipline to see something through. When you think about any goal that you've ever achieved, whether it's personal or professional, you will realize that it was achieved by taking action. Any intention or change is comprised of a series of steps that take you from the vision to completion of the goal. Ask yourself, "What are the milestones I need to reach to complete this goal?" "What are the steps I need to take to achieve these milestones?" "Who can help me achieve this goal?" If you don't identify your objectives, then the goal feels overwhelming and unachievable. You don't make a move, and the vision or idea is lost.
Since learning that valuable lesson at age 25, this process has evolved into something much more powerful and positive. Today, I ask myself, "What is the best thing that could happen?" In other words, what could this decision create for me if I followed through with it? The irony of the fear of failure is that you are unintentionally setting up the potential to fail because you are in a state of inertia -- and you'll continue to straddle the fence until you get out of fear, and make a move. Onward!