Fear of failure. I meet it every day. Young people are often afraid to try something new, take a risk, problem-solve, offer a solution, think outside the box, avoid doing an assignment or reading an interesting article. It isn’t because they are lazy, apathetic, disengaged or disinterested, in fact the opposite. I witness it most often in hard-working, high-achieving students. But why?
They are afraid of failing.
I was intrigued by a post entitled ‘Connecting the dots’ that I stumbled upon yesterday. Its theme reiterated my own thoughts on the immobilising effect of fear, the fear that not only my students express, although perhaps not so explicitly, but that I have also experienced in my own life.
Today, I read the results of a staff-experience questionnaire in which it was shown that the staff within the institution felt that they worked in a secure and stable environment. This is viewed as a positive perspective on the place of work. It means that people will want to stay.
However, if you talk individually to the staff involved, they talk of their dreams, the plans, the things they’d like to be doing instead of the job they are now in. But they don’t pursue them, they remain dreams.
Milan Kundera, in ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ said something to the effect of ‘in leading only one life, we can never know if a choice is good or bad since we have nothing to compare it to.’ If we only live one life, why do we stick so rigidly to cultural norms and expectations, fail to risk challenging the status quo, go against the grain, and find real meaning in the short existence we have? How else can we make the change to truly make a difference? There’s a great deal to be said for ‘feel the fear, but do it anyway’.
Make the most of the one life you have!