People want to be successful. They seek success in their education, their career, their hobbies, and their personal lives. While the pursuit of success is good, it often comes with a paralyzing fear of failure. Many of us struggle with feelings of inadequacy, worrying that we will come up short in one way or another. We compare ourselves to others—usually comparing our worst to their best—and find ourselves lacking.
However, failure is a necessary and even beneficial step—or long series of steps—to success. It is a fact of life that we will fail at some (or many) things. Failure offers opportunities to learn and improve; it builds character and strength. Unfortunately, our fear of failure often hinders our motivation to try something new in the first place. Then, when we do try, our first failures often resurrect that fear and we decide to quit. We need to learn, as President Worthen admonished in a January 2015 devotional, “how to fail successfully.”
If we can learn to accept the possibility and reality of failure, we can purge ourselves of the fear that stops us from trying new things or pursuing ambitious goals. We can develop the persistence and courage to pick ourselves up when we fall and try again. As Cassy Budd stated in her 2017 devotional, “Making mistakes is simply part of the human condition and can be one of your most productive learning tools. Yes, you need to recognize your mistakes. But more than that, you need to find a way to effectively play through them.”
Many BYU devotionals and forums offer insight into the early failure and insecurity of leaders, academics, and other successful individuals we look up to. Their stories and words of inspiration encourage us to overcome our fear of failure and to seek out our dreams.