Fear of failure is a very real thing. Most people have it, whether they realize it or not. If you think carefully on your past, you’ll likely find one and/or many instances when you were afraid you wouldn’t succeed at something. Maybe it was a potential job opportunity or an important exam at school. Whatever. At some point, you would have been worried about the prospect of making a critical mistake or failing at something.
This phenomenon is very prominent in martial arts circles, especially given the strict discipline and structured requirements that come with traditional martial arts. I even remember myself, three decades ago, standing at the back of the class trying to move through my techniques without error and trying to avoid Sensei’s gaze. It didn’t matter if I was screwing it up, I was just afraid of doing it wrong. This effect wore off as the years melted away and I increased in skill.
People are afraid of making mistakes. For some folks, it’s about pride. Some people are too proud to admit that they can make a mistake. Others are afraid they may cause disappointment in others, parents, instructors or otherwise. Some are afraid of the windfall that comes from failure and facing the potential consequences. For myself, I was mostly afraid of people seeing me do it improperly.
Whether you’re a newcomer to martial arts or even if you’re experienced, or maybe you have some other endeavours that you’re tempted to try out, I’ll let you in on a little secret: mistakes are an important part of the lesson. The only way you’ll learn is by making mistakes and having them corrected. We all start from the same place; the beginning. And like anything else in life, you need to make the mistakes in order to learn the skills.
It’s like learning to ride a bike. You may fall off a couple of times, you may even get skinned knees. But the important thing is to climb back on and keep peddling. The same can be said of any skill, martial arts or otherwise you may be trying to learn. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Don’t be afraid of being corrected or asking for help. It’s the only way you’ll learn. And grow. ☯