I was invited to speak to a group of parents about parenting skills. I have learned a great deal about the joys and sorrows of helpful and unhelpful parenting as I have listened to thousands of people. Josh and Shannon are great kids to parent, but we too have had our good days and our bad days.
Armed with the wisdom and examples of many people and the stories of our family I feel confident teaching others what I am learning about parenting.
Not this time.
I’ve edited and re-edited four times. I’ve felt unusually nervous. I strive for excellence, but was getting a little silly.
Why the nervousness? I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid I’ll fail.
This is not an uncommon fear, but I usually don’t fear teaching or public speaking. 1
After pausing and praying I realized that my editing was an effort on my part to control the situation.
– I recognized that I was afraid that they would reject me.
– I feared that they might think less of TreeHouse, my employer.
And, oddly enough, I was worried, not because of the content of my message, but because of the quality of my clothing.
I was afraid that my audience might not hear my message because my appearance would be a distraction.
How shallow of me. How disrespectful of me. Don’t run out and shop for me, but as I prepared I realized I own one suit and one nice pair of pants. I was afraid that they would not listen because of my clothes.
Whether they would like my clothes or not i began a self-talk storm alternating “they’ll know I’m a fraud” and “they just think they’re better…” I was counter-punching an invisible enemy.
I wondered if I should go at all.
In The Grip Of Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda
According to Lee Strobel, “People caught in the grips of what psychologist Arthur Freeman calls “woulda-coulda-shoulda thinking” get angry at themselves for the fear of failure, the refusal to take risks, or the shortsightedness that stopped them from going down the ‘right road’ in the first place.” 2
The fear of failure can paralyze us. It might not be a full paralysis, but the fear of failure limits our freedom to perform at our peak levels.
Counter-Punch The Real Enemy
This week we’ll take a looks at strategies, solutions and a Savior; all of whom address our desire to be free of the fear of failure.
Assignment: Think of a time when you believe that you failed. Whether the fear of failure played an obvious part in your “failure” or not, let’s take a deeper look.
Q – Ideally what “shoulda” happened?
Q – What do you think “went wrong”?
Q – What do you think you “did wrong”?
Q – What was out of your control?
Q – If you could assign blame, who else played a part in this “failure”?
Q – Finally, rather than focus on woulda-coulda-shoulda thinking, what, if any, lessons have you learned from your mistakes?
I know that you don’t want to make the same errors the next time you make a choice.
Q – What steps can you take, that are within your control, that will help you feel more successful next time?
We’re Not Alone
We’re not alone when we’re afraid. For thousands of years fearful people have prayed and sung these words:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” 3
Whether you figured out solutions or not, pray — talk through your thoughts and your feelings — to God.
Please God help us!
1 – My fear of failure this week focuses on installing a new, larger bathroom ceiling fan.
2 – God’s Outrageous Claims by Lee Strobel
3 – Psalm 121:1-2, NIV