Learning how to overcome the fear of failure is key to succeeding in business
Fear of failure. It’s a normal, human fear, and one that definitely pops up when we decide to start a business.
When we’re starting a business, failure is a very real possibility. (Only half of businesses make it to five years, so this is just the reality!)
And it’s not just starting a business that brings up the fear of failure, it’s all the decisions you have to make when growing your business.
The thing is, the fear of failure never really goes away, unless we learn to counter it. The way you counter it is by learning how to trust yourself.
Fear of failure is part of business (and life)
“What would you do if you could not fail?” is a dumb question — because there is no guarantee that you won’t fail!
“Failing” (in quotation marks, because what it is aside from not meeting your own — or society’s expectations), is how we succeed. Failing is learning.
The truth is, you will fail, at something, at some point.
There will be a time that you don’t hit your goal, or that something doesn’t go as expected, and maybe even a time where you have to scrap something and start over.
Failing a part of business and a part of life.
Avoiding failure is fruitless
Isn’t it interesting that we put so much of our time and energy into avoiding “failure,” when it really is inevitable?
(And… possibly something you even want to do as quickly as possible, because the faster you fail, the faster you learn!)
So while “What would you do if you could not fail?” will garner some very interesting answers, it’s not the right question because it’s too hypothetical.
Our brains know that if we try to execute on any of those answers, failure is very possible. And most of us will do everything we can to avoid failing.
The real reason why you’re so afraid of failure
It’s not so much the act of “failing” that is terrifying; it’s the feelings we have about failing. And even more than that — it’s the feelings we have about ourselves if we fail.
Ask yourself this: What would it mean if you failed? What would it mean about YOU personally?
For most people, the idea of failure is unbearable because it brings up feelings of shame, inadequacies, and worthlessness.
No wonder we want to avoid it!
The key, then, is uncoupling these feelings from the act of “failing,” remembering that failure is in the mind of the beholder, and understanding that our failure doesn’t need to mean anything about us personally.
What would you do if failing didn’t matter?
Because avoiding failure altogether is a pointless goal, the better question to ask yourself is: “What would you do if failing didn’t matter?”
In other words, “What would you do, if you knew that, even if you failed, you would be OK?”
Your answer to this question will be enlightening.
- You might take that leap to start a business.
- You might launch that offering that is close to your heart.
- You might share that personal story on social media.
You might do something dramatically different than what you are doing right now!
Your answer will illuminate some of your deepest desires. And along with that, it also exposes the biggest block in your way: Knowing that you will be OK.
How can we know we will be OK, even if we have a fear of failing?
Most of us don’t know that we will be OK.
And because we don’t intrinsically know that, we constantly search for things and resources and people who tell us we will.
We seek answers outside of us to some of our biggest questions.
- We use tools like Human Design, Enneagram, or astrology, to reassure us that we’re “normal.”
- We surround ourselves with people (whether it’s partners, coaches, or friends) who affirm for us that we are OK.
- We stay in “safe” jobs, avoiding our dreams, because they simply feel too risky.
The problem with outsourcing our power and playing it safe, is that we don’t take the risks we desire to get what we want in life.
The truth is, no one and nothing outside of us can give us that inner sense of safety and security. That’s because we must cultivate that safety and security within ourselves.
Self-trust is the antidote to fear of failing
Self-trust is the inner knowing that you will be OK no matter what.
When you trust yourself, you don’t worry about “success” or “failure” or what other people think. You don’t get paralyzed with fear that your life (or your business) will be over if something doesn’t work out.
Instead, you are grounded. You are at peace. You know you can handle what comes.
You know, that even in the worst of scenarios, that you will have a soft place to land.
When you trust yourself, you are willing to try new things, and experiment with new possibilities, and go for that big goal because you know you have your own back.
You can see how much is possible when you trust yourself!
What does it mean to trust yourself?
Self-trust is a feeling of safety and security within yourself, independent of what’s going on around you.
- It’s not the same as trusting the process (which usually means trusting someone else’s process).
- It’s also not the same as trusting the universe (which is trusting a higher power).
Those types of trust can be very powerful, but they are incomplete without self-trust.
Without self-trust, we won’t know whose process to trust. We won’t be able to follow through on the guidance from the universe or higher power.
It’s self-trust that gives us the ability to follow through, to make the commitments, and take the actions to achieve our full potential.
Self-trust isn’t the same as self-confidence.
You’re not trusting that you’ll always do a great job or always make the “right” decisions. (That’s a lofty, yet unachievable goal.)
Instead, self-trust is knowing you will be there for yourself and you will figure it out when you mess up.
Self-trust is so powerful because it’s always available because it is inside of us.
Why so many of us lack self-trust
The sense of self-trust — the inner sense of safety and security — are feelings we should, in an ideal world, experience as children, but so many times and for so many people, we don’t, for valid reasons.
- Maybe that feeling of safety and security was violated by someone we loved or trusted, someone who should have been doing good and caring for us.
- Maybe our safety and security was compromised by an experience we had in our lives that changed things forever.
Even if we didn’t have trauma we can recall, society has a way of conditioning us out of our self-trust, instead encouraging us to outsource that trust to “experts,” like parents, teachers, bosses, doctors, and the like.
So many of us have never really learned to source it within ourselves.
But self-trust is always available to you, if you are willing to cultivate it.
Self-trust is a feeling of safety within yourself
“Trust yourself” isn’t just something you decide to do. It’s not a thought. It’s not a belief. It’s not an affirmation you recite over and over until it magically works.
Self-trust is a feeling; it is a felt sense in your body; it is an experience. And it feels different to everyone:
Whether it’s a full body hug, a sense of grounded presence in your belly, or an open, expansive heartspace, only you know what self-trust feel like for you.
Self-trust is a practice; a practice of sourcing safety inside your own body. And the more you practice accessing it, the more available it is to you.
How to start cultivating that feeling of safety in your body
The key to experiencing that deep sense of self-trust, of feeling safe and secure, is embodying it — meaning, feeling it in your own body.
Just as trauma is stored in the body; self-trust also lives in the body.
Because self-trust is a felt experience, one of the most powerful ways to experience self-trust is through somatic work, including somatic coaching, which I now integrate as part of my business coaching.
Somatic coaching is a guided (ideally trauma-informed) coaching process led by a qualified coach that guides you through the process of exploring the feeling of trust in your body.
Often, if that feeling of self-trust is not accessible yet, you may have to go into the feelings that do occupy that space, and meet yourself there first.
When you do this work over time, you start removing the layers of trauma and conditioning that overlay the core of self-trust. Eventually you learn to access that feeling on your own, and strengthen it over time.
Fear of failure lessens the more self-trust and safety you feel
Cultivating self-trust can make THE biggest difference in your business, because it makes everything easier:
- It’s easier to make decisions, because you don’t weigh right and wrong so heavily (because it matters less!)
- It’s easier to trust your gut, because you know what that feels like
- It’s easier to take chances and to try new things because you know you can handle any outcome
- It’s easier to identify what experts and resources you want to learn from, and to take what works for you and leave what doesn’t
- It’s easier to follow through on the guidance from your higher self, because you trust yourself to carry out the actions
When you have that deep sense of self-trust, you question yourself less. You spend less time in your head or waiting for the “right” action or the “right” time.
You move toward your goals and your desires, knowing that you have all the support you need within you.
Trusting yourself is the missing piece in your business
Back to the question I asked at the beginning: What would be possible if you knew you would be OK, no matter what?
And the second question is: Are you willing to cultivate your own sense of self-trust so that you can make that possible for you?
The more you trust yourself, the more willing and able you are to take action. Even if it’s scary, even if there’s a possibility of failure (because there always is with the good things).
This is where the true magic and expansion and fulfillment come: when we trust ourselves to take the next step. But first we must feel safe enough to allow it.
Want to expand your experience of self-trust in your business?
As a certified trauma-informed business coach, it’s my passion to support clients through the outer work (like business & marketing strategy), as well as the inner work (like cultivating self-trust). The truth is, doing the inner work will make the BIGGEST impact in your life and the life of your business.
If you’d like to explore working together, your first step is to schedule a consultation here