I was listening to Sara Blakely, the SPANX founder and CEO, on her Masterclass training and she mentioned that, while growing up, her father would ask at dinnertime, “What did you fail at today?”
She shared how having that simple conversation with her father made it so she was willing to take more chances in life, and had made her less afraid of failure. Sara stated that she learned failure was less about an outcome, and more about not trying something.
I know personally that the fear of failure is huge.
When it was time to write the dissertation for my doctoral program, I would look at what an entire dissertation entails and almost feel paralyzed with the fear that I could not complete it. This was very quickly going to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if I didn’t start the paper.
In order to be able to move forward, I had to break the dissertation down into what I felt were achievable steps.
Yes, I can do the literature review.
Yes, I can do the introductions.
All these smaller steps eventually turned into a completed dissertation, but not without my own head and fears getting in my way.
Starting Virtue also brought up my fear of failure.
I believe in the products and the purpose.
I believe that we have something great that can hopefully help the over-prescription problem by offering natural alternatives that are effective.
I believe that people who struggle with mental health deserve relief.
Even believing with my whole heart in Virtue, I was still struggling with launching because of my fear of failure.
I had to spend time journaling and going further into this fear. And behind it was not only "what if this fails", but also the fear of disappointing my family.
Thankfully I have a very supportive husband, and we were able to sit down so I could share these fears and what-ifs.
Facing everything head-on through honest conversation helped me realize I wasn't alone (he happens to also believe strongly in Virtue) and gave me the push I need to move forward.
Side note: funny story.
I was trying to introduce ways to remove fear of failure in my kids and on one evening I caught my kindergartener pretending to wash his hands after using the bathroom. He had the water running and was loudly singing the alphabet - all while standing a few feet from the sink.
I thought it was hilarious. However, I think he got embarrassed by being caught. His brother then came down and asked what happened. I began telling him until my kindergartener told me to “STOP!”
I respected him and stopped. Then, after washing his hands, he came out of the bathroom ...and hit me on my back!
I was in shock. We do not believe in spanking our kids and often say, “Do we hit you? No. Hitting is wrong!”
But he hit me.
After we both calmed down, we talked about what happened. He apologized and told me that he felt I was making fun of him. Then proceeded to inform me, “I made a mistake. I failed. And you say failure is good. So me hitting you was good!”
OOOFF. Man, do I need to figure out delivering my messages a little more clearly or what?!
The point of the story is that we live in a day and age where people are so afraid of failure, and therefore they don’t even try things that they might actually be really good at.
It's no way to live because we miss all the lessons learned by taking action.
No one is perfect.
We can only try and, win or lose, we grow.