Four Kansas State University Olympians spoke recently to an audience at the Staley School of Leadership on campus about the fear of failure. Each of them described how they beat fear after the moderator asked what fears they had to overcome to be successful in their field.
I read an article in our local paper about this event.Each had specific fears. One was fearful of coming to a new country (the USA). Another worried about the others in his field who might be better than he was.
As I read the article, it appeared that much of what was discussed could relate to writers, too. Jill Montgomery, former athlete and now ESPN reporter said that failure is a natural part of life for those who strive to be great. She said people need to fail at some point to be successful. Her question to the athletes concerned the way in which failure helped them in their endeavors.
Erik Kynard, a silver medalist in high jump, said "In order to be great at anything, you have to be disciplined enough to evaluate your own characteristics and attributes to increase your capacity physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. You're essentially a builder, trying to build the foundation of your life."
Another jumper, Ed Broxterman, said he learned from early mistakes, that they paid off in using basic strategies.
Akela Jones, a native of Barbados who participated in the 2016 Olympic heptathlon, said that her failures help her refocus; then she reevaluates how she can improve. She didn't finish as well as she'd hoped but is using that to motivate herself to get better.
Thane Baker earned gold, two silvers and a bronze medal during the 1952 and 1956 games. He was the one athlete on the panel that said he never feared failure because he did not expect too much from himself. "I just knew I was going to do the best I could, and that's all I could hope for.
Erik Kynard suggested that thinking with your eyes, or judging a situation without considering other perspectives can prove to be a major obstacle in achieving success.
As you read the thoughts of these four successful people, ask how you can apply what they gave their audience to your writing journey. Sometimes fear of failure, or atychiphobia, holds us back in submitting to high paying markets or starting a major project like a novel or showing anyone your work.
If you have a bit of that 'fear of failure' in your mind, you are definitely not alone. Many of us have had it in the past or are dealing with it now. When doubts assail me, I tell myself to plow ahead. I've learned that if I don't try, I won't get anywhere.