This is something that hits close to home with me and I think that anyone who tells you they have no fear of failure is either lying or doing absolutely nothing meaningful to bring that fear to the surface. The truth is that fear is an indicator that you are thinking about doing something that tests you and pushes you out of your comfort zone. This is a good thing.
There are so many self help books and social media gurus that are making millions of dollars by telling people that hard work and a positive outlook always pays off. There is a famous Book/video called “The Secret” that made millions of dollars telling people that positive thinking and a real belief that you are going to succeed means success is guaranteed. Something about the universe bringing opportunities to people who think positively. If you believe this garbage, I’m sorry.
I’m not writing this to motivate with those worn out beliefs and mantras. I’m going to give you a real look into what failure is and the truth about facing it. I will start out by telling you that success is never guaranteed. Hard work, talent, discipline, intellect, don’t make the recipe for guaranteed success. You could chase a goal, pour your life into the pursuit of it and do nothing but fall short at the end. Life is really good at kicking you in the teeth and it kicks hard, trust me. But the beauty of it all is it really isn’t about the goal. It’s about pouring your heart and soul into something that you have an intense passion for, regardless of how hard it may be or the eventual outcome. What’s awesome about success is that it isn’t guaranteed. The victory is in the fighting itself, not the win at the end.
I started this business from literally nothing. Less than 5 years ago I didn’t have a dollar to my name, no car, had to move back in with my parents at 25 years old, I didn’t even have a bank account. I had nothing but a few garbage bags filled with clothes. Another hardcore come up story here? Nope. The reason I started this business, the real reason, is because I had nothing to lose. Not only did I have nothing to lose, I had no other options. No courage or some story of laying it all on the line for a dream. It’s something that was a dream of mine as a teenager but it died somewhere along the way. What killed it was a fear of failure. I went the route of the “guaranteed” success path instead. Success being equivalent with high income in my young mind. I started out going to school as a biology major with the plan of going into medicine. 3 years into college I decided I wanted the money without 12 years of school and I dropped out, took my series 7, and worked as a stock broker for a few years. Big money came and I destroyed my life with it. After the money was gone I continued on that path of destruction just to make sure I was really, absolutely destroyed in every way possible. I wanted to be thorough. Half kidding but anyway back to the point. My fear of failure pushed me away from this business that I’m running successfully now because I thought the guaranteed money jobs would give me the security I always wanted. I was searching for guaranteed success and security. I found soul death and misery instead. That’s how my fear of failure manifested itself in my life. It manifests differently in everyone’s life, but that’s a piece of my fear story.
5 years later, doing what I love doing, and being able to provide for my wife, myself, the little Viking growing in her belly right now, and that fear is gone. Haha I wish! It never goes away. It just finds new ways to attack me and try to paralyze me. I have an absolutely massive fear of failure. To give you perspective, I have zero fear of death but a huge fear of failure. Wrap your head around that. What I’m learning now is that fear is the guarantee. Not success. No matter how successful my business is I will always have to fight that feeling of impending doom. Am I good enough? Is this really going to work? When is it all going to fall apart? I know I’m good at what I do but will that be enough? Will this success continue? It’s endless.
And the reality is the feeling of fear and the voice may be warranted. Everything could come crashing down tomorrow. We live in an ever changing, unstable, and unforgiving world. But should that stop me? Should it stop you? No. Embrace the fear and embrace the prospect of failure. A true warrior doesn’t fight because he knows or even thinks he can win. A true warrior fights because there’s a battle to be fought. And failure for the warrior means getting butchered on the battle field. What does failure mean to us? Not much really. Yes the financial issue is scary but you usually aren’t battling for your life. People might laugh at you and ridicule you, so what? In the words of the immortal Mr. Chow “but did you die?”
The real battle here isn’t against failure and for success. It’s the battle to not waste our lives being scared little punks. The giving in to the fear is something that I refuse to do now. Giving in means backing down and trying to find security in some passionless life I really don’t want. Security is where dreams die. Going to war with the unknown and uncertain is the only path to fulfillment. Fulfillment not success. You can fail repeatedly and have way more fulfillment than while working in a career driving a desk making 500k a year. The endgame, the income, the success aren’t the point, it’s about the fight. It’s about knowing you poured yourself into something you really give a shit about, regardless of the outcome.
We live in a society that chases security above pretty much anything else. How many of the young kids coming out of college majored in something they were passionate about? On top of that the majority are coming out of school only to realize that there is either no job for them or they have to start in an entry level position making 30k a year and MAYBE work their way up over the next 30 years. They took the path of “guaranteed success” and it ended with 200k in debt and a job as a glorified receptionist. They are in debt up to their eyeballs with nothing but a piece of paper and an expensive lesson that success is never a guarantee. What about you? Are you trying to find security or find the fight?
The reason I’m writing this is because in one of those quiet moments of reflection I had an epiphany of sorts. What if I fail? What if it all falls apart? I’ve survived much worse than failure, and came back from it. Hard charging forward like a wild horse. So what if? Well, I would start again. Find another way to pour myself into something I love. I’ve tried to work jobs I hated that provided security and I’m not built for it. The fight and the uncertainty get me up in the morning. It’s what fuels my fire. If I fail I want to fail big. Taking steps onto a staircase I can’t see and don’t know where it leads.
It’s really not about money to me. I don’t dream of expensive cars or a mansion with an elevator. For me it’s all about the battle. I want to make a difference and work with as many people as possible to help them conquer their fears and weaknesses. Everyday that I put the work in, I’m winning. I’m winning because I’m here in it. It’s about slamming up against that fear repeatedly and gaining ground on it.
Find your fight and rage on. If you finish it victorious, find a bigger one. Fail, succeed, fail hard, keep going.
There’s beauty in the battle. Don’t die without scars.