Behavioural Motivators: The Fear of Failure

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Like the ‘Need to Achieve’ the ‘Fear of Failure’ is a potent motivator of individuals. Wishing to avoid the possibility of failing the individual is likely to attempt the identification of all perceived risks and develop what they hope are appropriate mitigation strategies. The Fear of Failure’ can act as a real spur to assure success.

This fear can however become extreme in its nature with the consequence of causing an apparent complete paralysis of action. Never certain that all risks have been identified the individual can spend significant time searching for all possibilities. Having identified a risk they can then seek to eliminate the risk as mitigation by itself assumes that the risk could be realised. As mitigation is not the same as elimination the possibility of failure still exists. It is not enough that the probability of failure is low: to them it must be zero. In this extreme the ‘Fear of Failure’ can make the individual ‘Risk Averse’. Where there is a risk it must be avoided at all costs. If it cannot be absolutely avoided then no action should be taken.

Whilst a ‘Fear of Failure’ can have a positive outcome its negative connotation leads to destructive behaviour. Unfortunately where a culture of ‘blame’ exists within a business the predisposition of the individual who fears failure is likely to be pushed to its counter-productive extreme.

Within a business environment, where there is a culture of support and recognition this fear can be managed so that more positive results are achieved. Even where the outcome of an activity has been less than optimal  there is generally some good that can be taken out of the situation that can reinforce the positive behaviour of the individual. With each small win progress can be made.

Success, no matter how small, can breed Success.

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