By TC North
Sept. 12, 2013
What’s the F word in leadership? It’s what most leaders fear the most … failure. It’s true for most leaders in all fields: business, sports, science—it’s even true in leading one’s family. But is it true for the most successful leaders? Is it true of Detroit's automakers execs?
I began using the term "the F word” when referring to failure after I interviewed Jeremy Bloom and he couldn’t get himself to say the word. Jeremy played football at CU Boulder, was a three-time freestyle skiing world champion, played three years of NFL football and has now built a very successful nonprofit organization, Wish of a Lifetime, and for-profit company, Integrate. Here’s a part of our conversation and how the F word in leadership originated.
TC: Are you afraid to fail?
Jeremy: No. I love … it’s weird; you know, you can find different levels of failure—but I love to f…. [he just couldn’t get the word out]. I don’t look at it as failures. I look at it as setbacks—and I love setbacks because I think every setback gives you an opportunity to separate from everyone else. So … I love the challenges of those setbacks and the opportunities that they present.
That’s one of the top Fearless Leaders’ secrets: world-class leaders have the courage to fail … in order to succeed.
Yes. I think the only true failures in life are lessons that you don’t learn. … My definition of a failure would be “a setback that was never solved.” That would be a failure to me. Outside of that, there’s not much, in business or sports that I would look at as a failure.
Developing a mindset of being excited about setbacks because they are opportunities to become more masterful frees you from fear of failure. It’s a complete, 100 percent resolution that there is no longer fear and no longer failure, only setbacks that give you the opportunity to become greater.
Fear of failure limits your success if you don’t learn to master it. It’s a tricky fear, though, because it shows up with many faces—some obvious and some not. The first step in dealing with fear of failure is recognizing it. Here are nine faces of the fear of failure.