The fear of failure—atychiphobia—is such a significant psychological threat to motivation that it can instinctively cause you to sabotage your likelihood of success. If you fear failure and limit your activities, you are acutely impeding the knowledge and wisdom that comes from opening yourselves up to the new and the unfamiliar.
In “Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society”, John Gardner (1912–2002,) an activist and a member of Lyndon Johnson’s cabinet, reminds us that openness to new experience is vital to learning and self-renewal:
One of the reasons why mature people are apt to learn less than young people is that they are willing to risk less. Learning is a risky business, and they do not like failure. … By middle age, most of us carry in our heads a tremendous catalogue of things we have no intention of trying again because we tried them once and failed. … We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure—all your life.
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