Saturday, March 9, 2013

How a Fear of Failure Can Impact Your Webcomic

Last week I talked about the need to be perfect and how it can really hold you back from telling a story which is otherwise really great. This week, I thought I'd delve a little more into one of the points I'd made about why perfectionists fail -- and that is simply, the fear of failure itself.

We've all heard the saying: nothing ventured, nothing gained, and in order to show you how true that is, let me put it into perspective for you:

If you take 300,000,000 people (the population of the United States), and tell them to do something remarkable like walk across America from one coast to the other, you can predict with near-certainty that 99% of these people will not make their goal. Some will start and maybe get most of the way there but run into a snag that prevents them from going further. Others will start and realize it's too hard or not what they really wanted to do in the first place, so they'll quit rather early-on. But far and away, the biggest category of those destined to fail, will be those who never started. The fact is, most people in America will tell you they'd love to walk across the country, but then, most Americans will also tell you that they've not made plans to do so. Ever.

So that should cover a lot of what you're up against, any time you start out to do something new and awesome -- like a webcomic! The same principle applies, and you can always count on the vast majority of people failing at something to be the ones who never started at all.

But what about the rest of the people who didn't make it? What happens if you become one of them?

It's very likely that the first time you do anything, you will fail at it. Two things you should understand about that: #1 -- Failure is good, because it means you are setting high enough goals for yourself, and #2 -- failure is rarely about going down in a blaze of glory and more about having an "a-ha!" moment when you realize you should have done something differently.

In order to do something you really want to do, you need to begin to frame your failures in different ways. Some places to begin are:
  • Looking at failure as a means to gain life-experience. Even if you do go down in a blaze of glory, you can proudly say you've been there, done that and gotten the t-shirt.
  • Considering failure as a way to gain perspective. You may think yourself hot stuff, or you may think the other way and consider yourself not good enough. Believe it or not, both of these assumptions can be hugely limiting, and can lead you away from your true north -- the path you should be on. Failing at something will tell you whether you should try harder, change your course, or do something else entirely.
  • Realizing that most successful people only got to where they are after countless failures. True overnight successes are rare. Most of them are achieved with five or more years of planning, failing, and trying again, which you never hear about. Too, I have heard stories of top-level executives not hiring people or venture capitalists not funding ideas, because the person they are considering hasn't failed enough. It ain't always pretty to go through, but failure is a mark of experience that people will respect when it's over.

Whatever you intend to do with your creativity, don't let a fear of failure keep you from it. Embrace it! Know that when you are failing, you are at least doing, and that's something that not everyone can say they've done.

No comments: