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Fear of failure: Are you playing to win?

- November 24, 2008 2 MIN READ

No matter where you are in your business, I’m sure you’ve had this thought: “I want my business to be successful.” Of course you do!

But what are you really thinking and feeling? Is the fear of failure and the possibility you’ll have to go out and get a j.o.b. worrying you? Are you worried about making targets? Are you watching the bills flood in and wondering where the income is going to come from?

These kinds of thoughts show that you are really playing ‘not to lose’, instead of playing ‘to win’.

The difference is subtle, but important. If you’re playing ‘not to lose’, you’re saturated with fear of failure. That taint of desperation is like Kryptonite to potential customers, business partners and opportunities. No one wants to do business with someone who is desperate. Your fear of losing pushes you closer to the edge of collapse.

Sometimes the worst-case scenario actually happens. Just two years in to running my business, I experienced cancer. I shut my business down for six months and it was a full 18 months before I was back full time. This very well could have spelled the end of my dream; instead, I reinvented my business model and have gone from strength to strength. There have been moments of ‘playing not to lose’, but every time I just shake this off and step in to my vision. My approach becomes ‘playing to win’.

So how do you get a ‘playing to win’ attitude?

First, what not to do:

You don’t contemplate Plan B if your business takes a dive. You don’t get caught up in catastrophising. By all means do risk management plans, but don’t obsess over the worst-case scenario: note it, and then get back to work bringing the best-case scenario into view.

Next, what to do instead:

Make a real commitment and decision to step in to your vision. This means becoming the person you need to be to fit that picture. Ask “What would I do if I was already living this vision? What kinds of decisions would I be making? What kind of attitude would I have? How would I be feeling?” Live the ‘being’ part of your vision now. This will help you step over any fears that may come up as you evolve and your business grows.

What happens when you ‘play to win’?

Failure is just not an option because you are so passionately engaged with your vision. Even if things don’t go to plan, you are so thoroughly rooted in the picture of your success, this event simply becomes information about what not to do; you move on quickly. It doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, or need to change track if something falls through. It just means that you stay focused on the prize and not the gaping chasm as you take a step over the ledge of the unknown.

And even if your business does actually fold, keep stepping in to the vision of who you want to be – not what you want to do.

Many a renowned business person has resurrected themselves from a failed business venture: Trump, Anthony Robbins, Dan Kennedy and others. Each one treated the experience as a learning opportunity and remained committed to their sense of contribution, growth, and creativity.

You can too.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"