Overcome Resistance + Defeat Fear of Failure

Do you remember the movie Girl Fight?

I watched it when I was 16 and was fascinated by this girl, this woman, who wanted to fight for a living and was willing to defy other peoples’ expectations to make it happen. What made her want to stand in a ring and get hit? Who told her she could do that?

For someone so entranced, it seems natural that the next move would be to sign up for a martial arts or boxing class of some sort and find out what this whole thing is all about. And that’s exactly what I did…

…18 years later. My first Krav Maga class is in two weeks.

What took me so long?

Two things.

The first is what Steven Pressfield calls resistance in the The War of Art. Resistance is that little voice in your ear whispering, “Don’t do it”, when you’re tempted to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this voice has given us an advantage. Those who stayed safe spread their genes, resulting in today’s society. But now, instead of keeping us safe, this voice can keep us from exploring new hobbies and passions.

The second thing is a fear of failure. The older we get, the less often we get put ourselves in situations where we’re beginners. And the less often we experience the failures all beginners experience, the more we worry about getting something just right the first time we try it.

How to get past resistance + fear of failure?

Take action.

It’s really that simple.

It doesn’t have to be a huge leap or cost a lot, and it doesn’t have to be a fully formulated plan mapping your progress from A to Z. Just one concrete step, one bold decision to move a little bit forward.

Thinking about quitting your job and pursuing a new career path? Find one person working in a field you’re interested in and ask to buy them a cup of coffee to learn more about what they do.

Have a guitar lying around that you’ve been meaning to learn how to play? Put it where you can’t avoid it and commit to 5 minutes daily or learning your favorite song.

Want to paint but think you’ll never get past the stick figure phase? Get a piece of paper, a kid’s set of watercolors, and find a short, easy Youtube tutorial.

But what if I fail?

Good! Great! Contrary to popular belief, failure is not a bad thing.

The older we get, the more we’ve learned to avoid failure. And sure, it can be uncomfortable and maybe even embarrassing to fail. But that’s why you should fail fast!

The faster you fail, the more opportunities to grow. Each failure provides valuable information that allows you to adjust your approach and try again, or move onto something else that you like more.

If you learn to embrace it, failure will feel less like, well, failure, and more like opportunity.

Still need convincing?

CM Punk, a prominent WWE wrestler, made his debut as an MMA fighter in the UFC this past weekend. He spent 2 years training in preparation, earning a white belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, but went into the Octagon with no actual fight experience under his belt. And, it should come as no surprise, that he was easily defeated in round 1 by his opponent, Mickey Gall.

But that’s not where the story stops. In his post-fight interview, CM Punk said,

“In life you go big or you go home. I just like to take challenges. This was a hell of a mountain to try to climb. I didn’t get to the summit today. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop…I will be back believe it or not… Listen, life’s about falling down and getting up.”

CM Punk didn’t just embrace failure; he embraced it in front of thousands of viewers. And he didn’t allow it to defeat him. Instead, he immediately recognized it for what it was: an experience that provided invaluable lessons to help him continue on his path.

So, what can you fail fast at today?

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