The fear of failure
plaques many, especially among salaried workers who are afraid that being seen a failure creates a wall to their chances of getting a promotion. As Shakespeare
once said, "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
The late US President Theodore Roosevelt
agreed to this when he said: "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
Indeed, how can we ever succeed if we never tried due to a fear of failure?
Just about every human endeavor ends up either a success or a failure and nobody wants to be seen in the latter. Unfortunately, in the overall scheme of things, the two are simply part of the big gamble that is life. Like night is to day, one cannot know the rewarding experience of success without knowing the pain of defeat. But as a common Japanese maxim says: "failure teaches success."
One benefits from viewing failure as a step towards success. Dale Carnegie
elaborated on this when he said: "Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. Develop success from failures."
What exactly does it mean to be a failure? The Spanish Marxist revolutionary Dolores Ibarruri
defined it obliquely when she said "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
Living on one's knees is reserved to people who prefer to wallow in a defeatist view of life which will always look at failure in just about every effort. It is a perspective that is in itself a failure as it fails to see the promise of success behind the daunting effort that has as much chances on reaching the heights of success as it is in reaching the depths of failure. But that is life. Napoleon Bonaparte
was known to have declared that "He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat."
The 19th century Post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh
said it best in the words "What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?'
People don't like to be disappointed and prefer to retreat in their comfort zones and not attempt to do new things that could result in failure and disappointments. But one has to remember what the 18th century German poet, thinker and playwright Frederick Schiller
said when he put disappointment in its proper perspective: "Disappointments are to the soul what thunderstorms are to the air."
Failures are part of life. Life can see us falling or stumbling down. But one does not remain on the ground when he stumbles and falls. He rises up. In life, that means rising up to the challenge, no matter how many times we stumble and fail.
It may be human to fear failure, but it is precisely in overcoming our human fears that is already a step towards success. Most of the time, persistence and hard work are all that are needed to overcome this fear. The 19th century French author Alfred Mercier said "It is the want of diligence, rather than the want of means, that causes most failures."
The great American novelist James A. Michener
said it best with the words: "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries."
Indeed, he who has never tried cannot savor success, because not trying is already a failure. The early 20th century poet and literary critic George E. Woodberry
confirms this when he said "Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure." Mark Twain
gives the last word on the matter when he said: "In 20 years, you will be more disappointed by what you didn't do than by what you did."