What is the Worst That Could Happen?

When you need the courage to be bold, simply ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could possibly happen?” When you have the answer, ask, “Can I live with that?” And if the answer is yes, then take a leap!

Firstly, we should be optimistic in life and at work. By optimism, we should firmly believe that the best would happen given our hard work and determination.  What I don’t mean is that wishing for the best will manifest in our lives.  The harder I work, the luckier I am, and the better things turn out.  Laying on the couch and wishing things get better has a much lower percentage chance of occurring.  The belief/optimism will give us the moral boost to carry on with our efforts. Only hard and constant efforts will lead to success.

I realized a long time ago that things that you measure get done and the things that you measure must be breadcrumbs that lead to the goals you have set for yourself or your business. For most people hearing ‘No’ or rejection is their biggest fear, so they have weak goals that don’t require them to stretch and push themselves.    Check out my other blog about loving ‘no’.  For a majority of people and situations, the worst you could hear is ‘no’ or be rejected but if you can learn from that rejection and be one step closer to ‘yes’ or acceptance then that is a positive.  Every miss or loss is a chance to improve and succeed in the future.  Nice statement for a bumper sticker but tough things to believe and motivate you every day out of bed. 

For our efforts to be constant, we should positively believe that we are going to succeed. This sort of positive thinking urges us onward through the cold mornings, slammed doors, angry phone calls, and miserable commutes till the goal or outcome is achieved. Secondly, if we get discouraged and lose heart, chances are that we will fail or quit because that is the path of least resistance. Also, there is another side to this, despite all our efforts it happens that we don’t succeed, hard work guarantees nothing. Therefore, if such a thing happens, we should be prepared to accept it and learn from it. We should remember that defeat is yet another step to success.  The only time you truly fail is when you don’t learn from the situation or the defeat. Here is another blog that highlights motivation, check it out. 

In every aspect of your life there are situations of success and failure, the situations that are driven by hard work, planning, pivoting, more effort, and overcoming obstacles.  These are the experiences that win or lose give us the muscle and experience physically and mentally to be successful in that instance or future ones.  You never know which situation will be the breakthrough to success.

Our next endeavor may succeed. But instead of that, if we lose heart and remain inactive, we will be giving success no chance to help us. To sum up, life as we all know is full of hard realities. At the same time, life has its bright side also. Life is really a mixture of success and failure, nobody is entirely successful in life. Likewise, nobody can always fail. If we fail once, the next time we may succeed. And so in whatever we do, it is a must to have a positive attitude but make sure you are ready for disaster. Such an attitude will certainly help us in life.

When we go outside of our comfort zone, we feel scared. Doing something risky and new our ego and identity become so wrapped up in what we are doing, that when things do not go as we expect, we can literally feel like we are going to die.

How can you learn to use failure to your advantage, rather than dreading it?  Here are five proven strategies to move through your fear of failure:

Revise Your Goals

You must re-frame failure by shifting your goals.  Goals need to include learning something new and you will never technically “fail” because there is always something to be learned.

Instead of having a very specific goal like “Earn at least $100,000 a year in compensation” expand your goal to include “Learn a new skill or certification that improves with a performance at work or makes me more marketable”. You can still target $100,000 a year in compensation, while at the same time anchoring yourself to the goal of learning something of value in your job. This way, you cannot “fail” because regardless of the outcome, you are bound to learn something of value.

Visualize Goal Obtainment Including Obstacles to Overcome

Published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, asked two groups of college students to write about what was scheduled for the coming week. One group was asked to imagine that the week would be great. The other group was just asked to write down any thoughts about the week that came to mind.

The students who were asked to imagine the week would be greatly reported feeling lower energy/initiative and went on to accomplish fewer/fewer things during the week than the control group.

Positive thinking alone is not good enough. Research has shown that the best outcomes are created when we balance positive thinking with visualizing the future obstacles and struggles we will encounter.  Wishing for things without admitting the difficulties or trials involved with the obtainment of those goals is a recipe for disaster. 

Here is how it works when you combine visualization with strategic thinking and an end goal in mind. Think of a situation in which you are afraid of failure.  Visualize yourself now hitting an obstacle, allow yourself to feel the fear, and then see yourself moving forward.  Next, spend a few minutes planning how to overcome whatever obstacles may stand in your way. Then see yourself succeeding despite these obstacles.

Appropriate Frame for Failure

Failure causes people to make huge generalizations by associating the failure with a bigger story about ourselves. We are taking the failure as evidence that “I am not good enough”, “I will never be successful”, “My team is awful”, etc.  People have a tendency to use failure as a guardrail to prevent themselves from experiencing failure again by creating a narrative that simplifies the situation to them lacking the skills to be successful.  If you don’t have the skills for this stop trying so you don’t have to fail anymore and the ego can be protected.

When you start to create this narrative stop and ask yourself “What is the belief I have about this situation?”  Identify the exaggerated story you are telling yourself about this particular failure and separate the story from the facts.  Facts: My compensation increased because of new skills I developed to $90,000 annually but short of my goal of $100,000 in compensation annually, I have a line of sight to more than $100,000 in annual compensation based on increasing my skills again. The exaggerated story you might have told yourself instead:  My father was right, I’ll never make $100,000 a year with my degree. I’m a loser.

Once you uncover the story, notice that it is just that. A story. And see if you can re-write it by creating a more positive response such as  “I’m willing to take risks, I learn from my mistakes and move on to better things.” The key to this process is recognizing long-term goals, short-term goals, and steps associated with both.

Ask Three Powerful Questions

The best response to perceived failure is to ask oneself these three powerful questions:

1)   What did I learn from this situation?

2)   How can I grow as a person from this experience?

3)   What are three positive things about this situation?

When you first attempt to list three positive things about the “failure”, your mind may be very resistant. But if you stick with the exercise, before you know it, you will see a new opportunity that can come out of this “failure.”  The more you practice this re-framing of the situation the easier it becomes.

For example, you might think; “Well, losing my biggest client gives me time to focus on my smaller clients and sell more to them. And I will also have more time to chase after that other potential new client. And I learned that my product demo needs to be improved, so I can make changes before targeting this new client.”

Surrender and Feel The Fear

Many of us allow fear to paralyze us because we don’t like experiencing fear. But if you simply allow yourself to experience the fear when it shows up, you will notice that it quickly dissipates and suddenly the situation feels more manageable.  The more familiar you are with fear the weaker its impact on you becomes.

The next time you notice yourself getting stressed out or feeling afraid of something not working out, sit quietly by yourself, set your timer for two minutes, and start taking deep breaths. Notice where you feel tightness or tension in your body, and simply breathe into that area for two minutes.  When the timer goes off after two minutes, chances are the feelings will have shifted. The more you do this, the more you will trigger your body’s natural calm response and you will move through fear with greater ease.