BLUF- During my 20 years in the Special Operations community, I have seen one sticking point consistently come up. That friction point is the Fear of failure. Overcoming the fear of failure is critical to mission success. Treating every mission as a no-fail but not being afraid to fail is a mandatory balance that must be struck
Once upon a time, deep in the forest, there lived a grizzly bear named Sam. Sam was a mighty bear, with a thick coat of fur and powerful claws, but despite his strength, he was plagued by one great fear: failure.
You see, Sam had always dreamed of becoming the strongest bear in the forest,
but Sam was so afraid of not being able to achieve his goals that he refused to even try. He sat in his den all day, worrying about what might go wrong and convinced that he was not capable of succeeding.
One day, a wise old brown bear came to visit him. Seeing Sam's fear, the wise bear said, "Why do you sit here all day, afraid to try? Do you not trust in your own abilities?"
Sam replied, "I am just not capable of achieving my goals. I am afraid of failing and being ridiculed by others."
The wise bear smiled and said, "Fear of failure is a natural part of life. It is only through facing our fears and taking risks that we can grow and become truly successful. Do not let your fear hold you back from achieving your dreams."
Sam thought about the wise Bear's words and realized that he had been letting his fear of failure hold him back. Sam decided he had had enough. He was tired of feeling inadequate and ashamed, so he made a resolution: he would not let his fear of failure hold him back any longer. He would work harder than ever before, and he would not stop until he was the strongest, most skilled bear in the forest. Sam would test his strength at the end of the summer in the annual grizzly games.
And so Sam began to train with all his might. He lifted logs and boulders until his muscles ached, and he chased fish until he was panting with exhaustion. And slowly but surely, he began to see results. His muscles grew stronger, and his reflexes became quicker. He was finally able to catch the biggest and swiftest fish in the river, and he lifted the heaviest logs and boulders with ease.
Sam's hard work was starting to pay off. He became strong and skilled. As the summer drew to a close Sam's anxiety began to creep back in. He thought, "What if I lose miserably?". "What if I can't lift the most logs?". "Have I trained hard enough?". "What if the other bears think me weak?". That last question seemed to sting Sam the most. Sam remembered the wise words of the brown bear, "It is only through facing our fears and taking risks that we can grow and become truly successful. Do not let your fear hold you back from achieving your dreams.". Sam mustered up all of his courage and shook away his negative thoughts. He was determined not to let fear rule his mind. He was determined to compete in this year's games for strongest bear.
The Grizzly Games was held in a clearing in the forest, and all the bears gathered to watch. There were several events, including a tree-pulling contest, a log-lifting contest, and a rock-tossing contest.
Sam did his best in each event, but unfortunately, he didn't win any of them. He came in second place in the tree-pulling contest and third place in the log-lifting contest. In the rock-tossing contest, he didn't even make it to the top three.
Despite his best efforts, Sam was disappointed that he didn't win. He had worked hard to be the strongest bear in the forest, but it seemed that he still had some way to go. What surprised Sam the most was how all of the other bears cheered for him even when he wasn't the best. They didn't make fun of him for trying, they actually wanted him to do well.
So Sam didn't let losing the games get him down. He realized that strength wasn't just about winning competitions - it was also about being able to protect his family and the forest that he called home. And so, he continued to train and work hard, determined to become the strongest bear he could be.
Sam was finally able to overcome his fear of failure. From that day on, he lived a happy and fulfilling life, knowing that no challenge was too great for him to overcome. Sam learned that it was only by facing his fear of failure and taking risks that he was able to truly succeed. He learned to embrace failure as a natural part of the journey toward success, and he lived a happy and fulfilling life as a result.
The "So What"-In the special operations community, fear of failure can be a significant source of stress and anxiety for members. An operator's reputation is everything in this small community. The fear of making mistakes and tarnishing this reputation can feel paralyzing. Individuals are often tasked with highly complex and dangerous missions that require a high level of skill, training, and physical and mental endurance. The stakes are high, and the consequences of failure can be severe.
For this reason, special operations personnel are often highly motivated and driven to succeed. However, this pressure to succeed can also lead to feelings of fear and insecurity, especially when faced with new and unfamiliar challenges.
A call to action-
There is a fear that lurks within us all, a fear that can hold us back and keep us from reaching our full potential. It whispers to us in the quiet moments, telling us that we are not good enough and that we will never be able to achieve our goals. It tells us to stay safe and to avoid taking risks, for fear of falling short. But the fear of failure is a lie. It is a deceiver that seeks to keep us from living our lives to the fullest. It tells us that we are not worthy, that we will never be able to succeed. But this is not true.
We are all capable of greatness, of achieving our dreams, and reaching our full potential. But we cannot let the fear of failure hold us back. We must push past it and embrace the unknown, for it is only by taking risks and facing our fears that we can truly grow and succeed.
So do not be afraid to try and to fail. Embrace the journey, for it is through our struggles and setbacks that we learn and grow. Trust in your own abilities, and have faith that you are capable of achieving greatness. The fear of failure may try to hold you back, but do not let it. Instead, let it be a reminder of your own strength and determination, and let it fuel you on your journey toward success.