Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fear of failure...or success?

I continue to see numerous articles and blog posts about fear of failure.  Specifically, most of these articles are written about not fearing failure.  The point being that not fearing failure will free oneself to take necessary risks that allow one to achieve higher levels of success.

This post is not a critique of those opinions, I think they are valid and necessary.  However, one aspect of achievement in schools that is rarely, if ever, discussed is overcoming fear of success.

Here are a few observations and thoughts to consider about failure.

1.  By and large, we are a very forgiving society.  If someone is working towards a noble goal, does their best, and falls a little short, we are generally very supportive and willing to give them more chances.

2.  Even if the goal is selfish, failure followed by reconciliation and eventual triumph earned by the lesson learned is the basis of many of our hero stories.

3.  When you fail, it is often easy to see where things went wrong.  Questions about the next try are relatively easy to answer because you have a foundation for your vision based on your failed experience.

However, when we reflect on success...

1.  Society seems to enjoy knocking those on top down a few notches.  In other words, we like to "keep them honest."

2.  Once you succeed, anything less than total success seems acceptable.  Have you ever heard an athlete, after winning a championship, say, "Well, now that I've done that I can go back to being on an average team."

3.  Your identity changes with success.  This can be very difficult.  One day you are a productive member of the faculty.  The next day, you are now considered a "master teacher."  One day you are a warehouse clerk.  The next, you are a lottery winner/millionaire.  You know you now, but who you will become is unknown.

4.  Very little pressure is applied to failures.  We simply do not expect much fro those who never reach their goals.  Successful people are under pressure because for those who have much to offer, much is expected...and we generally expect more from those who have demonstrated the ability to do great things.

The school year is approaching.  Many teachers and administrators are preparing for students to arrive.  If you are among the many who are contemplating a change, trying something new, or considering a bold plan to achieve a noble goal, here is my question.

Is it fear of failure that is keeping you from moving forward or is it a fear of success?
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