In today’s world, we are inundated with information from every which way. One estimation says we encounter 11 million bits of stimuli per DAY.

Oftentimes, we don’t know how to grapple with this reality; it’s not something people were physically built to manage. Our biological capacity to deal with this volume of information has simply not caught up with the interconnected world we live in – a product of the last 30 years or so. That’s a blink of an eye in geologic time.

This reality manifests itself in different ways. One of them is our tendency to avoid things that are scary or risky – feelings that are certainly human nature, but their effects are exaggerated by the volume of stuff we must sift through to make a choice.

Peter Bregman describes the fear of failure as a means of self-preservation, a form of avoidance – protecting ourselves from feeling something unpleasant.

How do we shift our thinking from managing our world and preventing paralysis, to managing ourselves and fighting for our own goals and objectives?

He offers the analogy of a surfer paddling out to the break, scoring a ride, and ultimately ALWAYS falling thereafter. And, thereafter, getting back on the board and paddling back out:

And when you fell — because if you take risks, you will fall — you’d get back on the board and paddle back into the surf. That’s what every single one of the surfers did.

So why don’t we live life that way? Why don’t we accept falling — even if it’s a failure — as part of the ride?

Fear of failure manifests itself in different ways for different people. However, it often shows up as avoiding experiences that challenge us in ways that are uncomfortable.

What if you have that scary conversation you’ve been avoiding and it ends the relationship? It would hurt.

What if you follow through on the business idea and lose money? It would feel terrible.

What if you submitted the proposal and you were rejected? It would feel awful.

What if you practiced these feelings? What if you made these leaps and invited those unpleasant feelings?

You’ll become familiar with those feelings and, believe it or not, you’ll start to enjoy them. Even the ones you think of as unpleasant. Because feeling is what tells you you’re alive.

Which you get by taking risks, feeling whatever you end up feeling, recognizing that it didn’t kill you, and then getting on the board and paddling back into the surf.

So let’s challenge ourselves to embrace failure and learn from our experiences, be they positive, negative or neutral. Let’s focus on our own goals and not let excess of choice and information interfere with our goals and visions for a better tomorrow.

Read Bregman’s full article here.

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