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October 2, 2023

Being Afraid To Make A Mistake

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Have you ever been stalled in a decision, wanting to move forward but you don’t know exactly what to do or can’t bring yourself to doing it? It could be in launching a business, finalizing a purchase, sharing an idea, or anything else?

Within that hesitation is a very human element that’s holding us back. At the end of the day, we really don’t want to make a mistake. In my mind this all ties into social dynamics. If we make a mistake and others learn about it, then it makes us “look stupid” and we’re thought to be perceived as less capable or less valuable. We fear this will lead to more social isolation as people take us less seriously, offer less support, and invest in us less.

The negative loop I just took you down is an evolutionary cycle that is in place to promote our safety and security. The avoidance of such social rejection is hard-wired into our genes and comes out in everyday situations.

Bu in today’s world this has some unintended consequences. If you don’t make a decision because you’re afraid to make a mistake, then someone or something else will make the decision for you. And this decision is often the less threatening, less demanding, comfortable decision that keeps us right where we’re at.

For example, you want to start a new healthier diet, but what if it’s not the right one? And a friend who is more knowledgeable corrects your misunderstandings and discredits all of the research you’ve done, making you look stupid. So to avoid that you don’t commit to it in the first place.

Or starting a business. What if you make the wrong decision and fail because of it, wasting a lot of time and money?

It’s a real concern, but let me add an alternative perspective. If you want to fulfill your potential and live out the wild ambitions you have for your life, you’re going to need to take chances and risk being wrong. In fact the people who are the most successful often looked uninformed, undereducated, or like a failure at one point in their journey. If anything, making mistakes is evidence that you’re on the path toward success!

And furthermore, people respect your boldness. It’s your own perception that sees yourself as ‘a failure’ or ‘looking stupid’. Other people admire it and are proud of you for going for it, trying new things, and putting yourself out there. That’s how you’d relate with a friend who’s pursuing their goals, isn’t it?

Anyway, I share this all to highlight the very human fear of making a mistake and the evolutionary roots that drives it, but also shed light on the opportunity within it. So my recommendation to you is to generate some awareness right now and think about what you’re holding off on doing right now because you’re worried you might make a mistake. 

If you need help building that self-confidence and structure to guide your next steps, check this out!

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