How to be free from the fear of failure

To be free from the fear of failure stop imposing conditions on the outcomes of your efforts. In whatever situation, do your best, and leave the rest to Life!
Yesterday I met a young businessman who, like me, had lost a lot of money in business. He was in debt for almost 10 years. And although he has managed to clear all his loans, his business is not doing too well and he himself has become very tentative and risk-averse. “I am bogged down by the fear of failure. I am unable to work with a free mind,” he confessed.
The fear of failure is a human creation. In Life’s larger design there’s nothing called success and failure. There are only efforts and events. Each outcome of an effort is a mere event. It is the human mind, driven by social conditioning, that labels these events as success or failure. Think about it: when you make an effort, an outcome will follow. Now, who decides and qualifies the outcome? It’s you who does that. As such the outcome has no quality. For instance, you put in a lot of effort at work. At the end of one year, you get a raise. Now, because you got that raise, you label the outcome as success. Had you not got it, you would have called the outcome a failure. But what about your effort? Would you now review your effort and say you will not want to work as hard because you are not likely to get a raise? This will only lead to a mediocre performance by you. And again you will end up not getting a raise. And therefore leading to unhappiness and discontentment with your job. There’s no point in looking at work and Life this way. It will leave you incomplete and frustrated. Instead simply focus on your effort. Do whatever you are good at happily. Pour your heart into it. And don’t worry about the outcome. If the result meets or exceeds your expectation, fine. If the result falls short of your expectations, fine again. Either way, learn from the experience. What will people say, how society labels you – these are inconsequential. What is important is that you worked hard, and well, and enjoyed yourself in the process. Simply stay with that perspective.
The key in Life is to enjoy the experience of living. With fear of failure you make the experience nightmarish. It disturbs your inner peace and robs you of the opportunity to be happy. Let go of that fear by stopping to impose conditions on how you want the results to be. Just put in your best every single time, into each moment. And discover how blissful you can really be!

On the Failure of Success

The F-word that we must all not avoid or feel embarrassed to confront does not have four letters. It has 7! It is FAILURE.

Fear of Failure prevents us from doing things that we love doing. We have been brought up, groomed, conditioned, to believe that Failure is bad and Success is good. And Failure is dubbed as coming last in class, not having enough money, losing in love or not being famous. Truth however is that Failure is inevitable. Not every effort will produce the result we expect. And yet we must plough on. Living each moment in full. Not be swayed by joy or depressed by sorrow! Because, even what we call Success, will, at times, fail us.

Here’s a short story that illustrates the point. The Sumeru mountain, accepted in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, is believed to exist in heaven. The significance of the mountain is that any great emperor who has conquered the whole world, when he dies, signs his name on the Sumeru mountain for his incredible achievements. One great Emperor, after his death, reached the gates of heaven, with his wives, who had also given up their lives on his pyre, as was the custom in those days. At the gate, the gatekeeper obstructed his wives from entering in order to accompany the King to sign his name.

The King was upset: “How can you not let my wives in to witness me signing on the mountain?”

The gatekeeper laughed and said, “O King, I have been the gatekeeper for generations and my ancestors were all gatekeepers here. I have said the same thing, that I’ve told you, to all those who have come here before you. You will actually be thankful. However if you still insist , you may go ahead with your wish!”

The King felt that the gatekeeper would know better and hence went alone to sign on the Sumeru. To his amazement, contrary to his belief that he was one among the few to sign on the Sumeru, the king found thousands of signatures on it, with hardly any space to fit his own signature. He immediately felt grateful towards the gatekeeper – for if his wives had seen what he was seeing just now, they would have lost all interest in him. For he was now not a great emperor but just another ‘also ran’!

He said in a tone of disappointment, “I always thought that I would be the only one to sign on the Sumeru mountain, but there are thousands of others who have signed before me. Where shall I sign now? I feel humiliated!”

The gatekeeper said, “There is an option. You can erase one of the names and have yours in its place!”

The King said, “What is the point, then one day somebody will erase my name and will have his name on it.”

“That is most likely to happen, but it’s up to you!” said the gatekeeper.

This is the inevitable Failure of Success! So, let us not chase Success and abhor Failure. Let us appreciate and understand that even Success fails us when we reach the metaphorical Sumeru. Live each moment, learning from it – even if you fail at achieving what you wanted to. That learning – from trying, falling and failing – is more valuable than grieving the inability to achieve a goal or gloating over at having got it!