As the NCAA Basketball Tournament continues I think back to the only basketball tournament I even played in. For some reason the adult league in which I played allowed most if not all teams to play in the end of the year tournament. Injuries, absences and poor play contributed to our team’s terrible record, but during the tournament all the pieces came together and we nearly won.
I love playing defense, and then, and now, I played with determination and success.
On the other hand, I dreaded every time I had an open shot.
By the time of the tournament my already poor shot was an almost certain miss.
I wanted to succeed, but I even dreaded private shooting practice.
Each miss only reinforced my inability to score a basket.
My one-for-eleven shooting filled me with a self-imposed fear of failure.
The fear of failure undercuts our self esteem. Fearing failure we shrink from challenges and opportunities. Living under the fear of failure we hold to a belief that “I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself.” 1
The problem, of course, with believing that we need to meet certain standards in order to feel good about ourselves is that no one can meet all the standards — even of we set them ourselves — all the time.
Thus, when we fail to meet standards, we feel like we have failed.
– If we believe loving people don’t have conflicts, but we do, we failed.
– If we believe good parents have “good kids”, but when we “don’t”, we failed.
– If we believe caring people don’t hurt others, but we do, we failed.
– If we believe good managers have accomplish their goal, but we don’t, we failed.
– If we believe Spirit-filled people don’t struggle, but we do, we failed.
– If we believe smart students don’t fail, but we do, we failed.
– If we believe good Christians don’t doubt, but we do, we failed.
We are left feeling miserable.
We start to think of ourselves as losers.
Shame drags us down as the fear of failure defeats our otherwise healthy self assessment.
Ever wonder if someone else is living under the shadow of the fear of failure?
Pay attention it’s affecting the way he or she works and relates to others:
Angry and irritable?
Drama dragging her or him down?
Drop in productivity?
Has he/she missed deadlines
More quiet or distant than usual?
Negative attitude? A sense of hopelessness?
Poor communication with co-workers or friends?
Poor quality work?
Wasting more time than usual?
Heavy stuff! What can we do?
1 – From Robert McGee’s Search for Significance