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Always Do Your Best & Watch Your Best Get Better

Always Do Your Best & Watch Your Best Get Better

We have all heard, “Always do your best.”  Whether it came from our parents, a teacher or sports coach, doing our best has always been a cliche-motto echoed throughout our lives.  But what does doing your best really mean?  And is it even possible to always do your best?

Emphatically I say yes, yes it is.

For years I believed that I was failing at everything I tried to do in life. I found that I allowed small let downs to snowball, steering my self esteem into nonexistence. Eventually I fully believed that I was worthless and had no potential.

One realization that I learned from depression was that I always put so much stress on myself which led to an intense shadow of dissatisfaction following me wherever I went. I would always second guess myself and no matter how hard I tried, felt like I was never doing well enough.

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What does doing your best really mean?

Doing your best is synonymous with living out each and every moment to its fullest potential.  And this potential exists in every situation you encounter in your life.  All that is required of you is not to fight whatever life throws your way.

Doing your best is not about meeting expectations or achievements. It isn’t about success or failure (or whatever that label even implies). It is about putting all your energy into whatever life situation you are currently experiencing.

Rethink the definition of failure.

Every moment you think you failed was suppose to happen exactly as it happened and no other way.  If you feel like you didn’t succeed then I suggest rethinking your definition of success.  It is often those moments that we label as failures that teach us the most about ourselves.

When you start to take each moment that you label a failure as a building block towards success your perspective drastically changes. Realize that failure cannot exist without a thought behind it labeling it as failure.
This is a choice, even if its an unconscious one.

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Every opportunity you fail just breeds more room for growth. Instead of taking each setback as a sign of weakness, test your resiliency. Challenge yourself, and embrace every chance at bouncing back from an unwanted outcome as a fun, exciting new window to explore.

Instead of allowing failure to be a dark moment in your history, let it be a measure of progress. Learn from it and don’t allow it to fog your self-esteem going forward.

Thinking about doing your best cannot coexist with actually doing your best.

For instance, if you are a baseball player and you constantly are thinking about doing your best, it is going to distract your attention away from hitting a fastball moving at ninety miles an hour.  Similarly, if you’re a scientist or philosopher, then thinking about doing your best will interfere with thinking about the task you’re trying to solve at hand.

The point is, that you just have to live each and every moment with the intention of giving your all to the present, whatever that entails.  You can’t do your best if you are worried that you that you could be doing better.  Otherwise you are no different than a dog chasing its tail!

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Simple methods to transform your perspective

Take any opportunity in life as a new adventure. Even if it is something that you have done a thousand times, experience it to its fullest from an open-minded perspective. For example, take your time spent waiting in line as an opportunity to talk to a stranger or appreciate the environment you’re in rather than anxiously thinking about how miserable you are because everyone else is moving slowly.

Do things to do them, not get them done. There are a lot of situations in life that we dread. For example, if you have to clean something, the mind often immediately races to, “I can’t wait until this is done.” Instead of dreading something until its done, take it as an opportunity to fully invest yourself in. This might sound silly, but it is such a simple way to re-frame your mind that will make everything you do more enjoyable.

Turn intention into action. Intentions are great, but they only get you so far. Have you ever heard of the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it?” I believe that this phrase fundamentally means acting even if the motivation isn’t there. Just because you think you can’t do something doesn’t mean you can’t.

Your best will get better

Investing all your energy into the moment and away from thinking about how the moment could be better is a practice that will improve all areas of your life.

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If you always invest all your energy you have into conscious life and away from the unconscious mind then you will always be doing your best.  Don’t fear that you won’t do as well as you want or you will succumb to those fears.

By staying in the moment and becoming fully present your mind begins to fear the future and harp on the past less and less. You become less dependent on external validation. You spend less time setting expectations and more time actually doing the things that will lead you towards achieving your goals.

When you always do your best you will be amazed by the results. It is a program for living that progresses the more you work it.

Featured photo credit: Tucker Tyrrell via tuckertyrrell.com

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

What Is Fear of Failure?

If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

Patterns From Childhood

Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

Over-Personalization

The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

False Self-Confidence

People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

Unhealthy Organization Culture

Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

High Achievers Become Losers

Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

Loss of Creativity

Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

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Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

3. Learn to Think Positive

In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

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Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

    4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

    Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

    Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

    5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

    There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

    It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

    For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

    6. Have a Backup Plan

    It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

    “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

    Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

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    Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

    There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

    7. Learn From Whatever Happens

    Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

    “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

    Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

    For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

    Final Thoughts

    To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

    Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

    Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

    More Tips for Conquering Fear

    Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

    Reference

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