Fear of Failure Began with Learning to Ride a Bicycle

Our biking life cycle goes like this usually: Tricycle à Big WheelàTraining wheelsàParent running next to youà then finally, you’re riding bike unassisted.  But to get there do you recall your anxiety, someone screaming at you saying: you’re wobbling; don’t hit that car/tree/sibling. In other words what was being said was “DON’T FAIL!” Instead we should have been told “this won’t be easy so I’m going to show you how to land softly when you fall down. In the process, you will know how to fall better and how to pedal while steering.”

Little girl riding a bike
Little girl riding a bike

The “safety nets” of learning this worldwide pastime and for many a great form of transportation, planted a seed of FAILURE is not an option. Instead, the seed of FAILURE is an opportunity to learn and get BETTER on the next attempt. Do you remember feeling stressed from the screaming “No no don’t go that way!” “Watch out for the bushes!” “Don’t hit your sister/brother!” Learning to ride a bicycle seemed to be more stressful than learning to drive.

While parents were trying to prepare and protect us from injury, it was a disservice to us as we grew up. We took fewer risks because we didn’t want to fail. If something was difficult the first time we quit because we didn’t have instant success.

We should encourage putting forth a true effort at something new, different and challenging. We should encourage learning from a mistake and not punishing when a mistake is made. We should provide positive feedback and encouragement at any level of incremental success and failure.  We should learn to embrace a failed attempt because it leads to an achievement.

When looking to do something one has never done before or is unfamiliar with do the following:

  1. Know you will make mistakes.
  2. Determine a recovery plan from your mistakes i.e. who to contact for corrective actions – 911, your boss, your mentor, your BFF or God
  3. Note what went wrong and what went CORRECTLY.
  4. Pause and praise yourself for taking on this new challenge.
  5. Do it again with your lessons learned.
  6. Turn the fear into POWER – Push On Without Endless Regret

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