How to Overcome the Fear of Making Mistakes

 To overcome the fear of making mistakes, aim for success, not perfection.

Is the fear of making a mistake preventing you from taking action? If so, the way to move beyond this fear and gain the courage to follow through on your action plan is to aim for success, not perfection. As a “recovering” perfectionist, I understand that if you have perfectionistic tendencies, you may equate success with perfection. After all, if you make a mistake, it means you have failed, right? Wrong. A mistake is not a failure. A mistake is simply the outcome of an action. It may not be the outcome you were hoping for, but that’s okay. The key to success is not to have a perfect outcome each and every time you act. The key to success is learning from the outcome—whether good, bad, or indifferent—and correcting your actions until you get the result you were looking for.

I discovered the value of learning from my mistakes early in my career. Let me tell you, speaking on stage in front of large audiences and hosting a live TV show, mistakes happen! Watch this blooper of a segment during which I learned duct tape and vinyl walls on live TV aren’t a good mix!

Sandi Grant, Producer of Daytime, on set with me talking about show bloopers.

Each of us makes mistakes from time to time. When you do, rather than beating yourself up over it, learn from it. Ask yourself, What did I learn from this experience and, as a result, what will I do differently next time? Life is a learning process. When you learn from your mistakes, you grow. For that reason, make it your mission to make more mistakes. What kind of crazy suggestion is that? Why on earth would I suggest that you make more mistakes? If you’re making mistakes, you’re taking actions and risks. The more actions and risks you take, the more you’ll grow and the greater opportunity you’ll have to live a joy-filled and worry-free life. Please understand that I’m not advising you to take foolish risks or make mistakes on purpose. I’m suggesting you shouldn’t allow the possibility of making a mistake stop you from taking action. I’m suggesting that you aim for success, not perfection.

Apply this positive approach to making mistakes in your life and amazing things will happen. The fear of making mistakes will begin to lessen, your ability to recover from setbacks will strengthen, and your inner peace and confidence will grow. When executing action in your life, aim for success by doing your best to reach your specific goal. If you get the outcome you were hoping for, great! If you don’t, pat yourself on the back for doing your best, learn what you can from the experience, and adjust your actions until you get the result you were looking for. Despite my many—many—mistakes, this very approach keeps me growing forward.