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“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” -Bill Cosby

For some, failure is not an option. For others, it is the only possibility. Success seems just around the corner for one individual while for the next, failure is inevitable. Why do most people see the glass as consistently half-full? In other words, what are the reasons that the majority of people tend to fail in their efforts? Let’s look at ten causes of predictably negative outcomes that are embraced all too often.

1). The “What-If” Syndrome

One of the easiest ways to fail is to contemplate the outcome of a certain event in a negative light. For example, we choose to replace a statement such as “What if this goes better than expected?” with “What if I make a fool of myself?”. This is known as projection and failure is nearly inevitable with such a negative outlook.

2). Lower Expectations

Instead of shooting for true goals, one instead chooses to aim lower (again, subconscious the fear of failing). Having less lofty aspirations is not only likely to lead to failure, but it places the individual into the mindset of never feeling as if he or she has accomplished enough.

3). All of the Eggs in One Basket

As the saying goes in Las Vegas, it is better to spread one’s bets around. Seen in another light, placing our entire faith in the success or failure of a certain task increases the chance that it may fail. Having a “fall-back” plan is essential. While the “all-or-nothing” approach may appear courageous, it is an excellent way to invite eventual failure.

4). Misery Loves Company

Underachievers tend to prefer those with a similar perspective. Why is this the case? When we are not motivated to become more than we are, it is easy to remain in a state of stagnation. So, it should come as no great surprise that unsuccessful individuals are likely to seek out the company of one another.

5). The Fear of Taking a Chance

It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. Those who are prone to failure can never accept this mantra. They will prefer to stay comfortable in a cocoon of stagnation; at least such a state is predictable. Unfortunately, little movement equates to a slim chance of finding success and very rarely will a windfall suddenly “appear” without first taking a risk.

6). Complacency

richard_branson2Some of the most successful individuals in life are never comfortable; they constantly seek more. However, this should never be equated with unhappiness. Those who want more believe in this reality because they have confidence in their own abilities. For this kind of “success junkie”, complacency is akin to a slow death. They implant the statement “onward and upward” within their everyday outlook. The result is that such personalities are more primed and receptive to any changes that may be awaiting.

7). Obscure Goals

It is not enough to simply wish for success and nothing more. Goals need to be conglomerated and set firmly in one’s mind. For example, let us look at two different mentalities. One person states that he wishes to make a million pounds and punctuate such a dream with this vague statement alone. Another desires the same million pounds but has a business plan, a novel idea and a handful of powerful investors. Which one is more likely to succeed? The answer here is obvious.

8). Unrealistic Goals

Just as with obscure goals, unrealistic goals are as equally difficult to obtain. When attempting to become a mountain climber, one begins at a level that he or she can manage as opposed to scaling Mount Everest after a week of practice. The same holds true for success. Satisfaction can only be achieved when a goal is feasible. Otherwise, we are destined for failure. What is perhaps worse is that when we fail at a lofty ideal, we are less likely to pick ourselves up and start again.

9). Inflexibility

One always needs to adapt to the environment that is present at any given time. Needs must be modified accordingly. This can be viewed as attempting to navigate a river. Going against the current can quickly lead to a boat foundering along the way. It is only through a flexible approach that such a river can be crossed. The same holds true when pursuing success. Inflexibility also leads to a narrow mindset. How can we ever expect to see the big picture (and other possibilities) if we are never open to the possibility of adaptation?

10). Throwing in the Towel

A final (and obvious) trait of failure is giving up too early. While there certainly comes a point where it is logical to pursue a different path, those who succeed at failing have the tendency to lose motivation at the first sign of difficulty. The “I think I can” mentality is nowhere to be seen and is soon supplicated with an “I knew I couldn’t” outlook.

Two aspects that we see in all of these behaviours are a lack of self confidence and an inability to accept that things may not always go as planned. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to identify such tendencies within ourselves. Only through embracing the possibility of a negative outcome can we fully open ourselves up to positive results.