We’re all familiar with the knight-in-shining-armor storyline: the hero slays the dragon to rescue the beautiful princess locked away in the highest tower. This is analogous to the obstacles we face in our everyday lives. You’re the knight, whether you’re a man or a woman. Your dragon is your fear of failure, and your one true love represents those hopes and dreams that you yourself have locked away in the Tower of Someday.
Success at anything in life—and especially breaking your paycheck addiction to become financially free—is predicated upon facing your fear of failure. Facing that fear, however, is different than overcoming failure itself; you must first overcome your fear of failure and probably fail before you can move on to success.
In our society, we often observe two disparate views on failure. On the one hand, we cheer the underdog who faces incredible odds (read: high likelihood of failure) only to overcome them to succeed. We like this story because it’s what we all want in our own lives.
On the other hand, in school or in the workplace, we seem to forget this lesson. Failure is seen as weakness—a disease to be cured. In a job interview, wouldn’t it be valuable to know how a candidate has handled failure in the past? In school, isn’t there a better way to encourage a children to try again than to label their work with a big red F for Failure? Failure is progress. If you fail at the right things long enough, you’ll achieve success. As C.S. Lewis said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”
Failure is inevitable. It is how we, as humans, learn and grow. When this dragon rears its fearsome head, realize that failure is a natural part of the learning process. And it is good. We don’t reprimand a baby for falling down when he’s learning to walk. Instead, we applaud him and help and encourage him to try again. Similarly, rather than looking down upon someone who has failed at something later in life, we can instead offer our help and encouragement.
If you yourself are facing failure, shift your thinking to see it as a learning opportunity that propels your future success. Face fear with optimism. Face challenges with resolve. Failing at the right things is progress. Robert Kiyosaki may have some encouragement for you: “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
So what does all this talk about fear have to do with breaking your paycheck addiction and starting a business to experience more freedom in your life? Fear—specifically the fear of failure—keeps employees bound to jobs that are not ultimately fulfilling. Think about it: if you absolutely knew that you would not fail, is there any reason you wouldn’t quit your job and start a business immediately?
You stay at your job because you’re afraid that a new business venture might not work out. To be perfectly candid, you’re probably right. And that’s okay. Most businesses fail, but the entrepreneur hasn’t truly failed unless he quits trying. Again, you want to fail at the right things, because it means you’re making progress. You’re on the right road; keep going, and you’ll get there! Learn from those mistakes and try again. If Thomas Edison hadn’t failed over a thousand times to make an electric light bulb, we might still be in the dark.
Further, consider this: remaining at your job guarantees failure. Let me explain. Your goal is presumably to make more money for all that it affords you—whether it’s a higher standard of living, providing more for your loved ones, supporting a worthy cause, or anything else. However you define your why, it will almost always require more money to make it happen. And yet even a modest annual rate of inflation of only three percent nullifies a three percent annual raise; your buying power is the same. And if you don’t get a raise, well, you’re that much further behind. To break that paycheck addiction, you need another income stream outside of your nine-to-five job.
Prepare as much as you can, but don’t put off starting your new enterprise indefinitely. Set a date. Give yourself a goal and a deadline. Remember, Someday isn’t on the calendar. Make it concrete. Get a clear picture (literally, create a vision board) of what you want, and then go after it with everything you’ve got. Try. Fail. Learn. Then do it again and again. Be bold and courageous. Slay that dragon.
Image credit: Disney