Have you ever wanted to play the guitar? Ride a skateboard? Be a stand-up comedian? Or run that 10k marathon? Although I feel like the last one is only for the sadistic who like to punish themselves, we always want to be able to accomplish something, have a dream only assign it to the “too hard basket”.
I have always wanted to be able to play guitar, but after trying in high school and struggling I stopped. I wanted to be a skater, someone who could just jump on my skateboard and ride all over campus in university; being accident prone, a few cuts, bruises, and injuries later I quickly stopped trying. Over the years, there are things that I have said I wanted to become good at but gave up early because I didn’t see progress or didn’t dedicate enough time to becoming better at it.
Many people do not attempt something in fear that they will not be good at it.
Deborah Frances-White, host of The Guilty Feminist podcast and book, shares her ultimate advice on how to tackle a fear of failure. Elizabeth Day hosts a podcast titled “How to Fail”. The podcast celebrates the things that haven’t worked out, exploring what failure has taught them, tackling that self-perceived failure and letting the family down.
Day’s podcast hopes to convey that it is ok to fail, and it is ok to try, as we will always learn something from it. It is not ok to give up and not try at all.
Frances-White suggests that every time we do something, we put ourselves into two categories: worthy or unworthy, and competent and incompetent.
“Rather than going into something thinking ‘if I don’t get this, I’ve failed’ go into it saying that you’re going to give it a try”, she says.
Frances-White goes onto share an anecdote that helps people face up to the concept of failure, and tackle it head on rather than shying away from taking an opportunity in case it doesn’t go to plan.
“People come up to me at parties and say, ‘I want to be a stand-up comedian’,” she said. “I tell them that in a year’s time, they can either be someone with a year’s worth of gig experience. Or they can become someone who wants to be a stand-up comedian.”
There you have it. I can either be someone with a year’s worth of guitar learning attempts a million cuts and bruises who can finally up their cool factor with the fact that I can ride a skateboard, or I can be someone who wished they could do that.
She rounded off the anecdote with a brilliant piece of advice to takeaway, “The only way to get good is by having lots and lots of goes at something.”