How to Overcome Fear of Failure
(The Authentic Way)
If you clicked onto this video, then you’re probably someone who has big and ambitious goals and you know that achieving involves some sort of risk, but there’s a little voice in the back of your head always warning of impending doom.
Nelson: You should start a business.
Evil Nelson: You’ll probably go bankrupt and have to move back in with your parents while all your friends advance in their careers.
Nelson: You should talk to that girl.
Evil Nelson: She’s going to shoot you down.
Nelson: You should start a YouTube channel.
Evil Nelson: Yeah, so everyone can see your videos with less that don’t even get 100 views.
We all have experience with the voice in our head that causes us to miss opportunities with people we should talk to, ideas that we should act on, and dreams that we should chase.
If we look closer at this voice, we’ll find that despite the convincing arguments he’s able to make, the real reason that we fear failure is something else entirely. As soon as I was able to understand what this reason was, it turned my fear of failure into a non-issue, as you guys can see with this channel, or on my instagram @NelsonQuest, fear of failure rarely even enters my brain anymore.
I’ve talked about a lot of the failures I’ve experienced in my business, but what you guys probably don’t know, is that NelsonQuest was my greatest failure long before it became one of my greatest successes.
About 4 years ago I launched my first YouTube Channel, where I invested over $100,000 in gear, my production team’s salary, advertising, not to mention the thousands of hours I poured into creating 73 videos and building a large community, and then one day I woke up, and it had been deleted. Gone in the snap of a finger.
To this day I have never received any explanation or been given any fair opportunity to recover it. I received messages from thousands of people around the world who tried to console me. My parents, knowing how much the channel had meant to me, were calling me daily, I think they thought I might be suicidal or something.
But here’s the thing, it truly did not affect me that everyone around me assumed that it would, you can ask my assistant Laura, she was there when it all happened. Within a day I was already entirely refocused on my business and I knew I’d launch NelsonQuest again and that it would be so much better as a result. Here’s how I was able to act that way:
I have failed thousands of times, I have failed so many fucking times, at so many different fucking things, entire years where failure were daily and massive, and when you fail that much, you learn some things about failure that allow you to always, instinctually use it as fuel, instead of being paralyzed by it.
There are the 3 major lessons that changed what failure means to me.
Lesson 1: Our idea of failure and success is distorted by social media
At the age of 26, when most of my friends were advancing in their careers, buying houses, and getting married, I decided to sell everything I had and move back in with my parents, to start a business. The first few years of that business were the worst of my life, every day I failed at something big, and every day I came face to face with the fear that I might end up bankrupt and completely fucked.
Then one day I was invited to a dinner with a bunch of other “digital” entrepreneurs, and we got talking on the topic of failure. To my surprise, every one of these high achievers was failing and thinking about failure just as much as I was. This is when I began to reflect more on social media, and where I realized that it’s not a place where people go to be authentic, it’s where people go to curate how others perceive them.
This is not a critique, it’s just how things are, it’s why we post mainly about successes, which many people often exaggerate, even when people do share their failures, it’s generally not in the moment, it’s after they’ve overcome them – and even then they often exaggerate with this as well.
It’s of critical importance for anyone looking to achieve anything to understand social media in this way, as a collection of carefully curated projections and not even remotely close to reality.
People fail at everything, all the time, I still fail all the time, sometimes to majorly that even months later, I’ll be doing something, remember the failure, and my stomach turns. If you’re failing, it’s not because you’re dumb, it’s because you’re trying.
Lesson 2: We can’t overcome failure with knowledge
Okay, here’s a trap that a lot of young entrepreneurs fall into, when I was just starting my design business, I used to be extremely uncomfortable with calling potential clients over the phone, fortunately, this was back in 2010 and the internet wasn’t what it is today, I couldn’t just Google something like “how to be confident on the phone” where I’d be bombarded with endless self help blog posts. All I could do was call my prospects until I got better at it and the fear went away.
By actually doing the thing over and over again, that’s how I was able to build the authentic confidence I wanted in the first place, common sense right? Well.. not anymore. These days, because of all the information we have available to us, and how conditioned we are to seek things that make us “feel good” while avoiding risk.
When people have the idea to start a business, they end up consuming and endless stream of blog posts, books, and podcasts on “how to start a business”, tricking themselves with the feel-good belief that they’re acquiring knowledge when really they’re just avoiding the risk of failure that comes from taking action.
Grant Cardone doesn’t want you to be Grant Cardone. Grant Cardone just wants you to keep consuming his courses.
When it comes to entrepreneurship or really any difficult endeavor that we undertake, we are literally at war with ourselves, and more often than not, reading books is something that we do to fake injury so that we don’t have to go into battle. If you’re going to read books, read them slowly, and apply them consistently. Books are meant to enhance action, not replace it.
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Lesson 3: Failure, when balanced, becomes a guide
If we’re failing too much, then that means we’re being reckless and we need to take a step back and review, however, and what is most often the case, if we’re failing too little, that can mean we’re not risking failure enough.
Once I was able to get through the first few years of my business, there were times where I wasn’t failing at all. This was a big change from failing every single day, when I looked closer, I realized that I wasn’t failing because I wasn’t taking enough action, I was now making enough money to cover my rent and expenses, and so I became “comfortable”, which is the worst thing you can feel if you’re trying to grow.
And so in these ways failure has become a guide for me, if I’m not failing enough it means I’m not taking enough action, if I’m failing too much it means I need to slow down and plan more carefully.
Alright guys, quick recap
Lesson 1: Our idea of failure is distorted by social media
Social media is not a place for authenticity and not an accurate representation of reality. Be careful not to compare your flawed, human self, to the carefully curated projections of others.
Lesson 2: We can’t (and shouldn’t) avoid failure by accumulating knowledge
No amount of blog posts, books, and YouTube videos will ever achieve things for you, you have to achieve them for yourself. The more time you spend reading about action, the more you condition yourself towards inaction, taking action, by definition, involves risking failure.
Lesson 3: Failure, when balanced, becomes a guide
When we fail too much, that means we’re being reckless. When we fail too little, it means we’re not taking enough action.
What I understand now is that fear of failure, as I used to think of it, was an illusion. If we consider the worst possibility of what might happen to us if we fail at something, it’s probably not that bad, now if we consider the worst possibility of what might happen to us if we don’t try and take action, well yeah that can actually be pretty catastrophic.
Guys I worked really hard on this video, if you enjoyed it please give it a like.
And lastly, let us know in the comments below something you’ve been delaying taking action on, what was the failure you feared, and what will happen to you if you don’t take action on it.
This is the path!
Ciao and cya in the next post.