The fear of failure can exist in many facets of our lives. However, to be a creative who is driven and motivated to work for herself, the fear of failure can be palpable and debilitating.
I started my brand, fig nine, in 2016. It was important to me to grow as organically as possible. So I took my time. I worked slowly—so slowly, debilitatingly slowly. I made custom robes to start and moved on to small batches of deadstock fabrics. I made it into a bridal shop nearby, but it wasn’t as successful as we had hoped.
My second collection was a bit more cohesive, and it helped me to gain a little more traction. However, I was getting more orders for custom pieces than for the actual collection. I would get little victories here and there, but nothing ever really stuck. I was in a constant loop of climbing the ladder and then sliding back down the rungs. Ups and downs are a natural part of starting a business, and while I tried to just go with the flow of entrepreneurship, insecurity and fear were holding me back.
I was in a constant loop of climbing the ladder and then sliding back down the rungs.
It has taken about a decade and tremendous hardship to fully absorb and put into practice moving through the fear of failure. I would get so overwhelmed thinking about all the work I could potentially create that I wouldn’t be able to handle any. Then, I would shut down. I would get ahead and then fall behind in a continuous loop, succumbing to the negative thoughts.
Fear is ever-present in our lives, but it is not all-encompassing. We are all greater than our fears, and we can move through them, maybe even dance with them from time to time.
Here’s three actions that can help you overcome the fear of failure:
Don’t fight it.
Acknowledge it. Give it recognition. The more you fight the fear you are facing, the more it will struggle to survive. It’s a battle that can’t be won because even if you come out on top in the end, you will have depleted your creative energy by putting up such a fight.
The more you fight the fear you are facing, the more it will struggle to survive.
Picture your fear like a field of tall grass. You can run through it at full speed with your eyes shut, or you can walk through it slowly, trusting your movement, trusting that you will come out of it on the other side to bask in sunlight. It’s just another landmark on your path, treacherous though it may be.
No matter how troubling your thoughts can be and no matter how deep your trauma goes, there is always something inside of you to offer care. Trust your process. Being a creative person is hard work. Although creativity can flow freely at times, most of the time it is something we have to make a commitment to, something we have to make work even when we feel like nothing is working.
Sometimes, it is easier to fall prey to fears of failure than to put forth the effort that our creative goals require. Awareness is key. We have to recognize these moments and the fear that is presenting itself and, then, reinforce the trust in our process.
So what if you fail? Will it be disheartening or discouraging? Yes. However, now you can learn from this failure and keep moving forward. One of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to learn from our mistakes. There is much to be said for the person that makes a mistake, acknowledges how it could have been done differently and then, implements changes from the lesson learned.
One of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to learn from our mistakes.
Go forth and fail if you must, but before you get there, give those feelings of fear a big mental hug and send them on their way. Keep an eye out for their return because they will come, and instill your trust in yourself.
You are powerful and creative, even if you fail. Keep wading, moving and dancing through the tall grass, and visualize the sun on your face on the other side. Its warm glow is always there waiting for you.
Has fear of failure ever inhibited you? Why do we allow fear to disqualify us?
Image via Sami Drasin, Darling Issue No. 22