I suppose that I am not unusual in having a fear of failure. It seems to be pretty inherent to the human condition. At times in my life, that fear has been so strong that it has paralyzed my actions. I wouldn’t take on certain projects or jobs because I thought that I might fail. This was unfortunate, thinking back to the opportunities I missed.
I found that a fear of failure is incredibly difficult to maintain when teaching. Every single day that I am in the classroom I am in front of students. Doing my best to engage them and develop concepts that can help them understand the world around them. If I am not brave that is a difficult environment to go into.
I know for a fact that I have a failed a number of times in the classroom this semester. I attempted a group project which despite my best efforts simply didn’t work out. I think the students were bored and didn’t learn much out of it. But by showing them and honestly acknowledging to them that I make mistakes, that I fail at things, I think it has created an environment where they feel more comfortable taking a chance in the class. Like my Grandpa used to say “You got to risk it, if you want the biscuit”
6 thoughts on “The fear of failure”
You are not alone. I think it is quite common among academics to have some form of anxiety due to the fear of failure. I personally have a fear of failing, and it gets so bad that I procrastinate on the task so I can avoid such a circumstance. But as academics, we are here to learn, correct? Part of learning is failing. Then you reiterate, or try again, taking the lessons you learned from the failure to succeed.
I also have fear of failure in many things, my research, my courses and many other things. I have to admit that a lot of unsuccessful things in my life was because of the fear of the failure and nothing more.
Yes, I have the same feeling. but every time i feel, I feel myself stronger to stand up and success again. We have a verse in my culture says: “who has fear to climb the mountain, will live all the life between the holes of the ground.”
You are not alone on having a fear of failure! And I really like what your grandma said “You got to risk it, if you want the biscuit”. In financial management, most people are risk-haters. However, I think the most worst case is not when you don’t want to take risks, but when there’s no risk but you are just not confident enough.
I agree that fear is probably part of the human condition, but it is not clear to me that fear of a lion and fear of students judging me are one and the same. I get the impression that some of this is taught to us and then we take it for granted as part of the human condition 🙁
I’m glad that you openly blogged about this because too many students think that they are the only ones that feel this way! Grad students in general are plagued with self-doubt, which is closely related to the idea of the imposter syndrome.