Overcoming the Fear of Failure as a Leader: Strategies and Techniques

Aaron is the Founder of Performance Mindset Coaching where he helps executive leaders unleash & reach their full potential, and co-creates strategic roadmaps for them to accelerate the path to becoming their best version. In today’s episode Wade and Aaron discuss leadership success through embracing failure, the benefits of taking imperfect action, and how success can lead to complacency.

Who is Aaron Trahan?

Aaron is the Founder of Performance Mindset Coaching where he helps executive leaders unleash & reach their full potential, and co-creates strategic roadmaps for them to accelerate the path to becoming their best version. Prior to founding his own coaching firm, Aaron spent 15+ years as a senior-level executive leader within public-company corporate environments & inside early-stage startups, where his roles & responsibilities included overseeing GTM strategy, operations, people & organizational development, strategic growth initiatives & performance management.

Leadership Development By Failure

Here’s an intriguing take on leadership development—it’s not the end of the road for leaders; it can be the catalyst for their success. Now, you might be wondering, why on earth would anyone want to fail? Well, here’s the thing: leaders who fear failure often unintentionally sabotage their chances of achieving greatness. Aaron, a seasoned expert in the field, believes that failure is inevitable in leadership. It’s not a matter of if but when it will happen; the key lies in how you perceive and respond to failure.

But here’s a mind-boggling twist: when leaders start tasting success, their risk tolerance tends to dwindle. Suddenly, failure becomes the enemy to be avoided at all costs. Why does this happen? Aaron has an interesting theory. He believes that as leaders achieve success, they become more aware of what they have to lose. They no longer possess the fearless determination of a fresh college graduate willing to move mountains to succeed. The stakes are higher now. But if you truly want to sustain your success and flourish as a leader, you must transform your relationship with failure. Instead of seeing it as the polar opposite of success, consider it an integral part of your journey. It’s a stepping stone, a valuable lesson, and a chance to grow.

The Benefits of Taking Imperfect Action

The worst thing about fear of failure is that it prevents people from taking action. This leads to a lot of missed opportunities and delayed outcomes. So if you want to succeed in anything that you do, you need to stop waiting for the perfect moment to do something. Just take action and don’t think about how good it is. Aaron believes it’s better to take action and make mistakes than wait for the perfect moment and do nothing. We don’t live in a world of guarantees; we live in a world of probabilities. As a leader, you must develop your ability to take imperfect action. But there’s a catch, your risk of failure is higher when you take imperfect action. Which is why you need to take action and learn. You also don’t want to be in a situation where there’s too much learning without action or too much action without learning.

How Success Leads to Complacency

There is nothing quite like the feeling of achieving some success. But on the opposite side to your success lies a dangerous shadow called complacency. And complacency, unlike other threats, is very quiet. It takes time to form, but when it matures, it destroys everything in its path. Success, no matter how big, is the breeding ground for complacency. More often than not, substantial accomplishments make leaders comfortable with their way of doing things. Their strategies become static and all their focus is turned inward. For Aaron, even the most dynamic leaders can become complacent. To avoid this, you need to always be in some form of discomfort and always learning. You need to be operating on the edges of your capabilities because nothing ever grows in the comfort zone.

3 Simple Steps To Maintaining Success (The 3 Outs Success Formula)

Becoming successful is hard. But do you know what’s even harder? Maintaining that success. You see, success can be a one-off thing. You could wake up one morning, get a promotion or a raise, or land a contract that will take your business to levels you never thought possible. But maintaining that success demands continuous effort and dedication. 

There are many tips and strategies that can help you stay on track and keep achieving your leadership goals. But according to Aaron, you only need these three things:

  1. Out Prepare Everyone Else – You need to be always doing your homework, always doing your due diligence and ensuring you’re never caught off guard. 
  2. Outwork and Out-Execute Everyone Else – You don’t need to work 80-hour weeks to outwork everybody else. You just need to be great at executing. Whatever you plan on doing, execute as soon as possible.
  3. Outlearn Everybody Else – Consistent outlearning everybody else is a competitive advantage. Success makes people complacent. Outlearning the competition is what separates the super-successful leaders from the leaders that plateau at the top.