The fear of failure of can be debilitating. It can also be used to bring out your best.
Sport is an amazing platform you can use to develop the traits that make you a better person. Endurance sports have an amazing ability to reveal a lot about yourself. To paraphrase founder of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, Commander John Collins it is where “you can find out what your soul is made of in a non-lethal environment.” I find running can do exactly that.
You can take what you learn in running and apply it to other areas of your life. Running can be more clear cut. You can define success or failure as a definite time in a race, the ability to cover a certain distance, or to achieve a personal best. Training to reach your goal takes time, commitment, discipline and plenty of other attributes. It isn’t easy, but we can get a lot out of it.
Good goals give us a real chance of failure. Pushing your boundaries means you have to go further than you have before. You never truly know you can do something until you have done it.
Destructive Fear of Failure
We can react to potential failure is different ways. We can simply not try, self sabotage or create excuses. Most will be familiar with the multitude of excuses heard before a race:
- I haven’t done any speed work
- This isn’t an ‘A’ race
- I’m just training through this one
It’s better to turn the fear of failure into something constructive.
Productive Fear of Failure
First recognise the fear of failure as positive.
It let’s you know your goal is a challenge. You will grow more from chasing big goals. If it doesn’t scare you, it might not extend you.
Identify what you fear.
Get specific. Write it down. Is it something you can control? Is it something you can prepare for?
Use this to plan your training or approach.
- If you don’t have time to do the training, use it as a catalyst to look at how you spend your time each week. Be detailed. You might be able to find that extra time. It might take some creativity.
- If you are afraid of the distance. Focus on your long runs. Make them a priority over your other training. Use the fear of the distance to motivate you to put the most into your longer runs.
- What if this or that happens during a race? Think about what would be the best approach to deal with it. Plan ahead. If you don’t know what to do, ask others.
Use the fear of failure to tell you your goal is big enough. Use it to plan to take on that goal.