Why we should stop trying to overcome the fear of failure

Last night I joined three business leaders for a panel addressing women of color in technology. The group assembled to discuss the influx of women of color leaving corporate roles to become entrepreneurs and what the journey looks like as a business owner. 

As someone who regularly sits on local panels to promote my own women’s organization and marketing company, there are some questions I’m not often asked. 

One such question from last night’s event discussed the common stressors of perfectionism and imposter syndrome. The question was, “In the corporate world and in your entrepreneurial life how have you learned to overcome perfectionism and embrace failure.”

The question caused me to really sit back and consider how I perceive failure, if I truly have ‘overcome’ my fear of it, and how it functions as part of my business journey.

While failure is one possibility in any situation, the other possibility is always success.

Rajeev Shroff, Cupela.com

In conversations with other leaders, I’ve often been accused of fearing success, which reminds me each time that perhaps success and failure are linked. If I fear taking the next step to scale my business, advance, or take on a higher level of client it can be viewed either way.

Perhaps I’m afraid to fail at up-leveling, or do I fear the potential success of doing a great job and having higher expectations to fulfill? Either way, not making a decision guarantees mediocrity. 

I think overcoming the fear of failure means understanding that in order to succeed, we must be willing to fail; therefore releasing the fear of failure truly means accepting the likelihood of success. If we view it this way it actually feels much easier to take the emotional steps to change our perceptions and thus our behaviors along with it.