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fear of failure

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Fear of failure is the biggest concern in life.

Across the board.

For everyone whether they’re aware of it, or not.

Heart failure in a hospital brings a Code Red, Code Blue, a code color that brings the crash cart cavalry to start humping and pumping a patient back to life from their flat line moment.

It doesn’t always happen in the sterile environment of a hospital, though. That’s when things get messy.

Why did Dr. John Travolta poke a huge needle into Uma Thurman’s chest in Pulp Fiction?

Fear of failure. Bring back the bosses lady dead and you’ll be next was the message.

If you’ve seen it, Pulp Fiction, and every other Quentin Tarantino directed movie features heart failure or one type or another.

Failure has its rewards, though. Like learning how not to fail. Or fail better.

Fear isn’t as rewarding.

It makes you hide, avoid, steer clear of even trying.

If you fail enough without the learning part, fear sets in like a virus; it affects every decision, every moment in every day.

Instead of action, or what passes for action in a regular life, the thoughtful repetition of movement that brings you what you expect, you get doubt.

I’ve seen it, felt it, and like a good writer whose fear of failure is rooted in rejection, ignore it. How’s that working for me? For you?

In most lives, we work toward some sort of approval, recognition.

After the basic needs posted on the ‘what matters most’ board tattooed into our DNA are met, namely Food, Clothing, and Shelter, not necessarily in that order, we move on. But to what?

More food, better clothing, better shelter?

Not happy enough with that?

If Billy works hard and gets his act together enough to accomplish goals related to Food, Clothing, and Shelter, he ought to be one happy camper and proceed in the same direction.

John Oliver’s telling comments about cats works here: “If cats like you, it’s probably because you feed them.”

But Billy isn’t happy when the rewards of his hard work get drained away for the basic needs of others who haven’t learned what a good work ethic means. Very unhappy.

He’s taxed from the left, taxed from the right, taxed all day, taxed all night. He hears about the unfair taxation on television, online, from his fellow unhappy campers.

Billy’s quality of life doesn’t change with the taxes, that’s not the point. Fairness is the point, and he’s being exploited. The feeling takes root in his fear.

What if my quality of life changes, takes a downward turn, and others’ rise? Oh. My. God. Some unworthy person will be living in my house and driving my car and sleeping with my wife/partner.

He’s not failing, but the fear of failure starts evolving into other fears.

Billy goes to meetings, attends rallies, raises his voice with others.

At the first opportunity he joins a group to enable leaders who share his point of view, his fear, his doubt. He hears their message and makes it his own.

One day Billy finds himself surrounded by people who share his fear, but not his work ethic, his values. What does he do? He’s too far along to change his mind, so he locks in for the ride. He gives his hard earned money to the cause and it gets distributed to fear.

Of course he’s still getting taxed unfairly, but the money he shells out to like minded people is what changes his life style.

He can’t drive his nice car in a rally of pick-ups and SUVs. He can’t invite his new friends to his nice house and watch them mess it up.

And the leaders he follows don’t want him in their house, either. He’s caught in the middle and can’t figure out why.

So he finds a scapegoat, a group to vent on, maybe an individual. He points his finger, opens his mouth, carries a torch.

Fear of failure without learning, without education, spirals into a feeding frenzy of hate, and the hunger is enormous.

Who are the Billys in your circle? The secret life living people separating themselves from a greater good until it’s all bad?

Writers call them anti-heroes, antagonists, and in their story arc they change from one thing to another.

Who’s the real victim? How does anger manifest? Where does hate influenced action lead?

Work it out, Billy. The story’s not over. And you may not get the saving jab from Dr. Travolta.

Your life isn’t a movie, Billy. Wake up.

About David Gillaspie


  1. […] They get each other. Ask yourself, “Is this who I want to be around?” […]

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