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Coach’s Playbook: “What if I fail?”

coachs-playbook_EMAIL_redFor the past couple of weeks, we’ve been working through ways to overcome the excuses that get in the way of your training. So far, we’ve addressed excuses that are heavily influenced by external factors. This week, we’re looking at a very internal, deeply personal excuse: “What if I fail?”

There may be plenty of external considerations that come into play with exam failure, but this excuse is deeply rooted in fear. Fear of failure is one of the most compelling fears we deal with as human beings. As some might say, the struggle is real. Paul Sweeney said, “True success is overcoming the fear of being unsuccessful.” And the field of IT is perfect for overcoming that fear!

Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? If you’re training for a certification, many would say failing the exam would be the worst that could happen. But I would argue that’s not the end of the story. You get another chance! All certification exams allow you to retake them. So even if you fail an exam, you can always return a couple of days or weeks later to take the exam again. And when you take it the second time, you will be better prepared than you were the first time. The nature of IT is learning. Learn from your failure, apply those lessons, and improve.

Here are some tips to help you overcome your fears of failure:

  1. Make up your mind to pass the exam. No matter how long it takes, no matter how many attempts, decide here and now that you’ll keep working until you pass the exam.
  2. Let it go. In the now immortal words of Queen Elsa, let it go. Failures happen to us all. Small failures, big failures, and everything in between. But far too few of us embrace failures as learning opportunities that can help us to grow. Failure isn’t something be ashamed of, but rather a chance to better understand what more you have to learn.
  3. Trust your training! Training works. If it didn’t, certifications wouldn’t exist and they certainly wouldn’t be an expectation within this industry! So trust your training. Recognize that training is a process. It may seem overwhelming at the beginning – and maybe even in the middle, but in the end, you’ll be ready! Commit yourself to your preparation and you will be prepared! Christian Nestell Bovee said, “We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.” So, train to overcome your ignorance, and day by day you will overcome your fear through the process.
  4. Train in the now. Persius said, “We consume our tomorrows fretting about our yesterdays.” Don’t let yourself worry about tomorrow’s training or next week’s exam. Be fully present and engaged in the training you’re doing right now! Put in the effort to learn all that you can today and the exam will take care of itself.

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”  – Rosa Parks


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