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Mar 28

Isos, Heroes, Cowards and Losers

Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

Kobe Bryant is one of the best basketball players to ever play the game.  On the other hand, according to a recent ESPN article by Henry Abbott, Bryant’s fear of failure blinds him from experiencing even greater success.

After missing 22 shots in a New Year’s Day loss to Denver, Bryant scoffed at reporters who hinted that he should have passed the ball to teammates: “If you’re asking me if I’m going to shoot less,” he said, “the answer is no. It starts with me. I do what I do. We play off of that, and that’s not going to change.”

“Go-to scorers in crunch time who are isolated against one or more defenders — the very definition of hero ball — almost never give up the basketball even though they are, in that moment, the least effective scorers on the court.” 1

Bryant has a passionate drive to succeed.  That’s a strength.  But, he also has a prideful blindness borne out of a fear of failure.

Blinded By Fear

Robert McGee has identified nine reactions — what I’m calling blind spots — people have when encumbered by a fear of failure. 2

1. Perfectionism – One of the most common symptoms of the fear of failure is perfectionism.  The perfectionist cannot accept any kind of mistake or failure. If this is a problem we face, we will almost always focus our attention on the one thing that went wrong rather than feeling good about the things that went right.  Perfectionists seem to be highly motivated, but the motivation comes from the fear that if we fail at anything, we will no longer feel good about ourselves.

2. Avoidance of Risks – Risk-avoiders are unwilling to be involved in anything at which they might not succeed.  They bypass new activities and potential friendships because the risk of failure seems too great.

3. Anger and Resentment – Anger and resentment may result when our performance is being criticized. We fear that criticism may expose a failure and that failure will bring about a loss of self-esteem.  Therefore, a person feels anger and resentment because he believes his critic is trying to steal the good feelings he has about himself. 3

4. Pride – A person may base her or his entire self-worth on being, or appearing, successful.  Unfortunately, when this person achieves success, he or she also may become full of pride.  However, the good feelings we experience as a result of pride seldom last long.  They usually disappear at the first sign of failure.  Pride looks like self-confidence but is really only a mask we wear to hide our fear of failure.

Yesterday, my co-worker Ash SanFilippo told us about a very intelligent friend whose pride dragged down his integrity.

As Ash explained, his friend when faced with a dilemma he did not know the answer to would construct a solution that seemed plausble and say it forcefully and convincingly.  His goal?  Appear intelligent in order to maintain a public self-image he cultivated.

Unfortunately, his efforts included fabrication, exaggeration and abject ignorance.  He deceived others to protect a false self because he feared failure so deeply.

Today we discussed the first four blind spots. Tomorrow in Blinded By Fear we will explore the other five blind spots.

1 – Hero Ball by Henry Abbott

2 – Robert McGee’s Search for Significance

3 – Self-check alert from yesterday: “How much time do you spend editing…” were all the words I needed to hear before my self-protective anger level rose.  I hate that as I tried to rush to publish yesterday I had more errors than the 2011 Chicago Cubs baseball team.

Bring on the comments

  1. […] Yesterday I identified the first four reactions, here are the other five: […]

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