Turning Fear of Failure into Motivation

During periods of uncertainty, people take time to reassess their objectives and priorities whether personally or professionally. Some might decide to move out of large cities, change job career, stop working or decide to focus more on spending time with their close surroundings. Whether the outcome is positive or negative, there is a risk of making a decision that has never been made before and therefore, a risk of failure. The reason why we fear failure is because we were conditioned that lack of failure guarantees success. However, taking risks can be motivating and lead to extended successful career paths.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck identifies a certain way of building a growth mindset by embracing mistakes and developing a resilient mindset. She mentions that as it is inevitable, failure needs to be seen as an opportunity to learn. Encouraging growth over achievement will increase motivation and productivity at work. People should set goals that challenge them to work harder but are still attainable.

Leaders taking important decisions, should focus on lessening the impact of certain choices to reduce the chances of failure and the vulnerability of high-impact and low-probability events. The natural mentality of humans makes us focus on what could go wrong rather than what could go right. However, it does not mean they should not take risk and stick to conservative decisions due to fear of failure. By taking chances, they can increase the motivation of their teams which will also result in enhancing their productivity.

In the fast-changing world that we live in, for companies to survive and continue to be profitable in the future, they will need to take risk to innovate and explore areas that have not been studied before. Due to technological advancements in Biotech companies, the Pharma industry will face a disintegration. Meaning that large pharma companies normally responsible for all aspects of drug discovery, will be outsourced to smaller more disruptive companies with more innovative alternatives. As a result, pharma company directors must make decisions for the future and should see smaller new entrants of the industry as motivation to innovate and ensure a larger market share. They should make sure to learn from the small companies and not focus on the possible challenges that can arise. Instead, this can be motivation to strive further in improving operations.

Leaders could focus on surrounding themselves with a team of employees that range from risk-takers, innovators and motivated to make a change. Even if taking risks and therefore having the possibility of failure, can come at a cost, it is needed to get past the comfort zone of employees and to lead the business further if possible.

For employees that are afraid of failure, leaders should make sure to redefine failure and understand that no employee will do every task perfectly. Next, they should set attainable short-term and long-term goals so their manager can help them achieve the more difficult tasks.

Therefore, it is healthy to surround ourselves with people who challenge us, and to take risks at work to further develop both soft and hard skills. People that are willing to face change without knowing the unknowns will have extended careers and be able to experience more. Similarly, failure should not be feared but rather embraced, to build a more resilient mindset for future decisions and tasks at work.

References:

  1. How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure, December 2018, Harvard Business Review.
  2. Turning Fear of Failure Motivation, April 2021, LinkedIn.
  3. The Science Behind Motivation, January 2015, Forbes.