In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge's manager Susie tries to persuade her to try again and tells her to get back on the horse.
Midge responds, like many of us... "f*@k the horse" because we fear the idea of failure.
We feel that failure is embarrassing, inhibiting, and final. We believe that others will judge us. All of this is not true. Failure is not inevitable, and even if it was, it is the first step in learning and success.
Many successful people have failed, picked themselves up, and reached great heights. Oprah's first news station fired her. Michael Jordan's high school coach cut him from the team. Yet, they both reached the highest levels of their professions because they did not let this incident define them. Here are some steps to do the same.
Be Clear on Your Goal and Fear
When people become fearful, they can react in several ways, including avoiding, freezing, or becoming foggy. To alleviate this, you should take the time to unpack your end game and what you need to do to get there.
The next part of this is to understand what fears arise and where. Does the fear evolve about the goal in its entirety or is it just part of it, such as asking friends for business or working on leadership skills and feeling you may look foolish? Write down what the fear is and where it comes up.
Then, there are several ways to try to re-frame that fear:
- Assess how realistic the fear is.
- Look not at what could happen if you fail but what could happen if you succeed or try.
- Through the entire process, you should return to this visualization of success. It is also essential to think positively about the outcomes.
- Trying often changes the way people perceive you. For example, your reputation becomes someone who is working on building a book of business or working towards that next level.
- Evaluate the worst-case scenario and what would happen.
- Talk out the fear with a trusted advisor.
Research and Prepare
The more information you have and the better prepared you are, the more likely you can mitigate some of the fear (that will still be there) and increase your confidence.
I suggest you also write down the information you need and how you want to "be" to be successful. Doing this will allow you to prepare better. It would also be best to include any challenges or obstacles you can see. Then, seek out others who have succeeded in similar challenges to give you insights that will help you.
Finally, take all of your insights and create a plan to prepare you best.
The next step is to take some action - no matter how small. Actions build on one another. The more actions you take, the more comfortable you become taking more steps forward. It is best again to approach each activity positively and re-frame negative thoughts.
It is helpful to acknowledge that you may fail, which is great because you will learn. Think about a child learning to ride a bike. Very few, if any, speed off into the sunset on the first attempt. But through learning and going through the process, you open up a whole new world. The same is true as an adult.
Also, the more that you take action, the more fear of taking action disappears because you realize the results are not what you imagined - even if you fail. We overdramatize the terrible outcomes and underestimate the benefits of trying something new.
Assess & Celebrate Successes and Set-Backs
No matter the outcome, I want you to celebrate that you took a step outside your comfort zone and that you did not allow your fear to dictate your actions.
Finally, assess whether there is a success or failure, how you would handle the situation next time. We learn both from our victories and those that did not go as planned. And through this learning, we continue to grow and move toward our dreams.
Want to learn more about how to become the in-house leader you are meant to be?
Check out Sheila's 10 Tips for In-House Counsel Struggling to Advance.
In this guide, Sheila shares her time-tested tips for in-house counsel to release fear, jump-start your career, and propel towards promotion.