Srila Prabhupada said that failure is a pillar of success.
The fear of failure is the great obstacle to success in life. It is what keeps people in their comfort zones. It is what makes them keep their heads down and play it safe as the years pass by.
The fear of failure is expressed in the attitude of, "I can't, I can't, I can't." It is learned in early childhood as the result of destructive criticism and punishment for doing things your parents disapproved of. Once entrenched in the subconscious mind, this fear does more to paralyze hope and kill ambition than any other negative emotion in the human experience.
The major reason for the fear of failure is that most people don't understand the role of failure in achieving success. The rule is simply this:
It is impossible to succeed without failing.
Failure is a prerequisite for success. The greatest successes in human history have also been the greatest failures. In the same year that Babe Ruth became the home run king of baseball, he also struck out more than any other player.
Success is a numbers game. There is a direct relationship between the number of things you attempt and your probability of ultimately succeeding. Even if you were the worst player in baseball, if you swung with all your heart at every ball that came over the plate, you would eventually get a hit, and if you kept swinging, you would finally get a home run. The important thing is to swing with all your might and to keep swinging, and not worry about striking out occasionally.
Thomas Edison was the most successful inventor of the modern age. He received patents for 1,093 inventions, 1,052 of which were brought into commercial production during his lifetime. But as an inventor, he was also the greatest failure of his age. He failed more times, in more experiments, attempting to develop more products, than any other living scientist or businessman. It took him more than 11,000 experiments alone before he finally discovered the carbon-impregnated filament that led to the production of the first electric light bulb.
There is a story about Edison that, after he had conducted more than 5,000 experiments, a young journalist came to him and asked him why he persisted in these experiments after having failed more than 5,000 times. Edison is said to have replied, "Young man, you don't understand how the world works. I have not failed at all. I have successfully identified 5,000 ways that will not work. That just puts me 5,000 ways closer to the way that will."
Napoleon Hill said, "Within every adversity is the seed of an equal or greater opportunity or advantage." The way to deal with temporary failure is to seek within each setback for the valuable lesson that it contains. Approach every difficulty as if it were sent to you at that moment and in that way to teach you something you need to learn so you can continue moving forward.
Become an "inverse paranoid": Tell yourself that everything that is happening is moving you toward the achievement of your goals, even when temporary failures seem to be moving you away from them. Keep looking for the good. Great successes are almost always preceded by many failures. It's the lessons learned from the failures that make the ultimate successes possible.
Decide, in advance, to take every setback as a spur to greater effort, especially in business and sales, knowing that you are getting closer and closer to success with every experience.
Look upon temporary defeat as a signpost that says "STOP, go this way instead." One of the qualities of leaders is that they never use the words failure or defeat. Instead, they use words like "valuable learning experiences" or "temporary glitches."
The great football coach Vince Lombardi had the right spirit. After a game in which the Green Bay Packers were defeated, one of the reporters asked Lombardi how he felt about losing. Lombardi replied, "We didn't lose, we just ran out of time."
You can learn to overcome the fear of failure by being absolutely clear about your goals, and by accepting that temporary setbacks and obstacles are the inevitable price you pay to achieve any great success in life.
- Brian Tracy