The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one. Elbert Hubbard
Fear paralyzes and that in two words is the only problem with fear. Unfortunately those two words are responsible for a whole life time of failures, dashed hopes, unfulfilled potential, abject performances and even financial woes. When we are afraid, our natural instinct is self preservation and this means taking evasive action pronto. Moe often than not the flight response is so dominant that we are mentally set to flee long before the feared possibility even appears on the horizon. However when we are suddenly faced with a fearful situation, often we find ourselves quaking in fear and rooted to the spot unable to move or react.
One of the most commonly experienced fears is the fear of making a mistake. Perhaps this is one of the chief reasons why the majority of the population around the world is terrified of public speaking. Usually if we maintain status quo the chances of making a mistake are minimized for then we haven’t triggered anything that will be linked back to us. However while most times we can get away with doing nothing, there are many critical times when being paralyzed with fear can be life threatening. Take the case of a person trapped in the topmost floor of a high rise building on fire who is asked to cross over to the next building by slithering across the ropeway attached. The fear of the fire and the fear of heights can trigger panic in the person who might end up immobile. A similar fate could befall a person who suddenly encounters a big cat like a lion or a tiger in the jungle.
A situation that drives people crazy with fear is the possibility of public humiliation if one commits a faux pas or mistake in public. Rather than seeing a mistake as a natural outcome of action gone wrong, people with a tremendous ego, fragile confidence or those who are timid by nature avoid any situation that brings them to the spotlight. As a result some of the most talented people never display their talent or ability and lead an inglorious life, punctuated with regrets and envy of others. There are many others who are so fearful of mistakes that instead of learning from mistakes, they are constantly trying to cover up, give excuses, find fault with extraneous things and absolve themselves of all responsibility. In the long run their growth is stunted, their potential remains unfulfilled and at best they play second filled all the time.
The best way to overcome the fear of mistakes is to realize that the vast majority of mistakes are never fatal. Equally important is the realization that mistakes will happen no matter how well one prepares. Eg. Look back at the numerous silly mistakes you made while answering your examination papers. Perhaps they may have cost you a merit rank but it never dampened your enthusiasm to do better next time. Mistakes are a humbling experience and reveal to us our human weakness and fragility. Finally if one has benefited from a mistake, then one needs to take that as a rare grace of a mistake. When one can overcome the fear of mistakes, only then can one explore the frontiers beyond and yonder.
Remember: “If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything”
- Total the following numbers (without jotting it down again and without using a calculator or excel sheet or any external aid) 23456+45678+98765+413289+243546+765849+132589= Jot down the speed with which you calculated the total. Now try to beat that speed by calculating the same numbers without counting the fourth number. Recheck your total using a calculator. If you made a mistake in totaling is it because you were focused on speed or simply careless. If you didn’t even attempt it, is it because of your fear of mathematics or you think it is absurd doing the exercise. Do you think you are making a mistake by not attempting?
- If you have to relive your life again, list at least 3 mistakes in your life that you would correct or ensure you would never repeat.
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