Fear of Failure is Really Normal

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear” - Jack Canfield

In business and in life, fear has a sneaky little way of slithering in.  Many people may be surprised that fear can have such a crippling impact, until they are in the thick of it. It’s really normal to experience fear in business—the fear you aren’t going to make a sale, the fear no one will follow up with you, fear you won’t be able to close the deal, fear that you’re not going to gain an agreement.  The fear is very real and sometimes it can even cause you paralysis—you close down and refuse to take any action. I’ve known salespeople who would not “ask for the order”, because of their fear of being rejected. Obviously, they were not really ‘salespeople’ at all.

Today I want to talk about how you can use fear to your advantage. Oh yes I did, I said it. Using fear to your advantage can actually be quite helpful, especially if it helps you overcome a situation, or a particular individual that causes you anxiety. I’m sure you’ve heard it said: “…the only way to take on fear, is to face it head on.”  You see, fear can actually act as a motivator or a lightning bolt.  It can jumpstart you into action, the same way it can make you want to crawl in a little ball and hide away. Fear stems from the instinct we all have that signals either fight or flight.  It’s adrenaline inducing, which actually can be a good thing.  It’s harnessing that adrenaline and channeling it into something positive; that allows good to stem from something that's not so good, like fear. 

Preparation is truly key in these fear-inducing situations. If you know a situation you’re about to walk into, is going to make you want to run the other direction or shut down, then you must prepare that much more. There’s a reason professional basketball players, practice making free throws for hours.  They know that if they allow their ‘fear of missing the shot’, to reign supreme when the game is on the line, they will always choke. With muscle memory and continuous practice, they can now rely on that preparation. They know it will overcome the fear of failing, and they now are more likely to make the shot.  In business; preparing notes, writing out accomplishments you’ve had in the past, or even memorizing an introduction helps alleviate that same fear.  The more you prepare, the more you’re able to rely on that preparation, along with your renewed confidence.

It’s also important to understand that you won’t always succeed.

You need to understand and game plan for what you’ll do when you fail. In sales, you have to consider that ‘failing’ is a part of the game. Sometimes, it’s a necessary part of the process. When I fail to make the sale, it forces me to replay the situation in my mind. What did I learn about the client who didn’t buy? What did I learn about myself, my process, my analytics, my approach? And … what can I employ the next round, or my next attempt, to satisfy that particular client’s needs and objectives? Did I succeed in challenging the client’s status quo? Did I offer the insight of my research about his industry? Did I gain his trust and respect, as a fellow entrepreneur?  I know that the more I learn and listen, really listen …the more I sell. And, the more customers I’m able to serve. All of this learning and mental growth, comes from that initial failure and the real fear of failing. 

Understanding the role that fear plays in business, is crucial to your success. I promise, if before you go into that meeting, you read over your notes (visualize the shot from the free throw line), and work on harnessing those fears and channeling them into positive energy; your presentation or meeting will not fall flat.  In fact, it will soar. And … You know how it feels to soar!