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The Fear Of Failure

Glen FreddoMar 14, '21
Many ideas, opportunities and the potential for greatness, are never realised due to atychiphobia, or what is we know as the fear of failure.

We often hear "don't let fear hold you back" but for some it is absolutely crippling.

Years ago I heard a phrase "It seems that you have the talent, now lets see if you've got the guts."

People often wait for the courage to arrive, to have the guts to do it, but they'll be waiting forever.

21 years ago I was blown away by a line in the movie Three Kings. Major Archie Gates, played by George Clooney made the following statement:

"The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it."

Three years prior to that epiphany, I did a writing course, as a student, at the WEA Hunter. The weekend course was called Writing For Publication.

From memory there were about 12 students. And a very talented teacher.

At some point during the first day, the teacher asked the class who had been published. I was the only person who raised a hand.

The other students, and these people were in an age range of between 20 and into their 40s, maybe even older, all looked at me in awe.

If I were to be suffering from scopophobia (the fear of being stared at) I probably would needed to have been hospitalised.

The class was full of students who were afraid to send in stories to magazines. They didn't want to feel rejection, they didn't want to face failure. They wanted to hone their skills (hence them doing courses such as the one we were in) to reach a standard, to be good enough to be accepted by a magazine publisher or book publisher.

I was there to improve my skills too. But I hadn't done a single course before I started writing and sending in submissions two years earlier.

At the end of the first day the teacher asked me to bring in some examples of my published work the following day.

I did. Three folders.

One folder was the published works (all my success had been in magazines, so I had plastic sleeves with the pages from the magazines in them).

The second folder had all my rejection slips. Letters from editors. Some were pro forma rejections. Some were more personal.

The third folder was the cheque stubs. There were a lot of those too.

I had a passion for writing. And I don't know what thrilled me more, seeing my name in print, or getting the cheque in the mail (I suspect it was the latter, because I was also using pseudonyms for some of my submissions).

On any given day I could open my PO Box at my local post office, and find several envelopes in there. A mixture of rejection letters and cheques.

The cheques certainly took the sting out of the rejection. But regardless, I never took it personally.

There were times that I was able to use those letters of rejection to make changes to the manuscripts. And some editors were getting familiar with me. One even informed me that he had sent my submission to another magazine editor in the building (they were all owned by the same publisher) because he thought it would be a better fit.

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

I think the most important thing is I didn't stand (or sit) still. I did my thing, sent it off, and got cracking on my next idea. I wasn't waiting for the response. I was pumping more into the pipeline. Keep up the momentum. Keep moving. That might be the vaccine that will cure your fear of rejection or failure.