Warning: This Challenge Is No Fun. But It Will Change Your Life.

June 1, 2017

By actively facing rejection, you will overcome your fear of failure. The problem is most people are afraid to face it even one time.

Editor’s Note: The headline is serious; the challenge in this article isn’t fun. But it will make a profound difference in your life, if executed.

There was a study that calculated how many times the average person tries to accomplish a goal before giving up. Its findings – the average person attempts to accomplish a goal less than one time before giving up.

How can the number be less than one?

Because most people don’t try at all. And the only logical reason for that is a fear of failure, as we don’t try because our fear of failure cripples us into inaction.

So that gives you two options: you can either accept this and move on, allowing your fear of failure to keep you in whatever box you’ve established for yourself. Or, you can overcome your fear of failure and live your life free.

If you pick option one, more power to you, you can drop off now. But, if you pick option two and refuse to be held hostage by a fear of failure any longer, LinkedIn Learning Instructor Tatiana Kolovou has just the challenge for you.

The problem: it won’t be fun. In fact, you’ll probably want to quit before you even start it. But, if you actually do the challenge Kolovou lays out, your life will change for the better.

Ready to go? Okay, great, here’s the challenge.

The challenge that you’ll hate at first, but will be forever grateful you did.

To get good at baseball, you need to play a lot of baseball. To get good at coding, you need to write a lot of code.

And, to get good at failing, you need to fail a lot.

Well, that’s not exactly accurate. The goal isn’t to fail. Instead, the goal is to ask or do something that’s outside of your comfort zone, which you likely don’t want to do because your fear of failure kicks in. But, by continually doing these things, you’ll eventually overcome that fear and live free.

That’s exactly what Kolovou’s exercise aims to fix. In her course Building Resilience, Kolovou outlined a three-step challenge for overcoming your fear of failure:

Step 1: Ask for something small that you are scared to ask for.

Next time you go to a store, ask for a discount on a product that you likely won't get. Or, ask if a colleague would like to watch the football game after work. Or some other small question that literally scares you to ask – I bet something jumps into your mind quickly.

Maybe, maybe you’ll hear a yes – that’d be great! If you hear the opposite though, don’t fret.

“The point here is that you get used to hearing no,” Kolovou said in her course. “When you do, manage your internal language. Instead of thinking about the negativity of the no, praise yourself for stretching your asking muscles and thinking of the next ask opportunity.”

Step 2: Start making more elaborate asks.

Once you start getting used to rejection on smaller asks, it’s time to go bigger.

Next time you go to a sporting event, ask security if you can go onto the field/pitch/court/whatever. If they happen to say yes, ask if you can meet the star player on the team (same goes for a concert, ask if you can meet the lead singer).

Or, ask your colleague for help on a big project, even if it’s outside their job description. Or for a ride home. Or, as Jia Jiang did, ask for a burger refill or for a haircut at PetSmart.

The point here is to continue to fight that fear of failure. When you hear no on these bigger asks, never apologize for asking and keeping your internal dialogue positive.

Step 3: Once a quarter, ask for something you really want (but don’t think you’ll get).

After you’ve accomplished the first two steps, it’s time for step three. And this is where you ask for the things you really want.

Maybe that means asking your boss for a new computer. Or for the head of your department for help. Or something else you really want, but are scared to go after.

Many of us complain to our spouses or our friends about these things, but rarely have the courage to ask the decision-maker if things can change. After progressing through the first two steps, you now will be able to ask and ask confidently for something you really do want.

The answer might be no and that’s okay – if you went through the first two steps, you should be able to properly handle that no. You can always ask again, and even if the person says no, it puts it in their mind and maybe you’ll get it down the road.

Where this eventually will lead

If you continue with this, eventually you’ll transcend beyond just asking for things from your boss or your boss's boss. If you want to start a business, no longer will fear be a limiting factor. Or, even in your personal life, the fear of failure will be removed.

Think about the possibilities if you weren’t afraid. But the only way to get there is practice.

One last point

Reading this sounds easy. And yet, how many of you will actually do step one? How many of you will actually ask for something you are scared to ask, knowing you will most likely get a no?

Very few. And that proves the point – most of us are so scared of failure, we accept the box our fear puts us in.

That’s why it is such a massive advantage to get over that fear and actually complete the steps listed. If you do, you no longer will be living in a box anymore – you’ll be free. Imagine how much bigger your life will be if you remove that restraint?

So seriously, do as Kolovou suggests and seek out some rejection today. I promise you, it isn’t as bad as it sounds – it’s just a no, life moves on and you’ll become a little bit stronger. And then keep doing it.

Because ironically enough, the more little rejection you face boldly today, the higher chance you have of succeeding big tomorrow.

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