#5 The Fear of Failure

Nobody wants to fail. And especially not someone who is used to achieve your goals or even outreach them on a regular base.

So, imagine you are starting a new role in another country and you experience all layers of uncertainty.

No wonder, that most women I’ve interviewed in my Interview Series Expat Women on the Move were so afraid to fail abroad. So much more afraid than they would be, when they stayed in their roles back home. Read more about my insights here.

The question – What if I failed after three years or a certain time in the country and did not bring the results I wanted to see? – is a very tough one and we usually do not talk about it a lot.

When you are leading change abroad, you certainly go through struggles, but the final goal shall be to succeed. At any prize. The fear of failure is certainly in anyone who raised the hand and said: Yes, I am gonna take this challenge and move to…

So, how do we work with this fear in us? This inner voice that says: We need to make the change happen, otherwise we’ve moved the family at a high cost, the team is not happy and I know that I’ve failed.

When we are afraid of something new – a new challenge, a new country, a new role – it actually means that we are growing. It means that we chose a challenge outside of our comfort zone, and that we are right now creating a new comfort zone. The one, that we will exit in three years from now.

We won’t be able to get rid of fear. I’ve been watching a powerful Ted Talk just today about how a young African entrepreneur, Caleb Meakins, who recently passed away too soon, transformed his country by constantly spreading the word that failing is part of the game.

One saying stood out: We can’t stop fear. But we can stop that we get stopped by fear.

One client shared recently that the fear of failing in the assignment was always with her for the entire assignment of two years. She rushed goal setting processes, rushed to get to results and did not invest the time at the beginning to connect with her key people. One insight I’ve gained from working with her, out of many, was that everyone is afraid to fail. Especially when you are in a new role in a new country.

And in her case without a family support system. So, any extra layer of complexity seems like fear gets increased times two. All up to the point of almost burning out.

What changes the narrative? She said that she craved a community of like minded women leaders who address challenges in a safe space. Inspiring leaders who share in a very open way what they are afraid of and how they wanna tackle it are rare. If you do work with your fear, it will inspire others to see their growth vs. failing as well.

So, are you afraid that you will fail abroad? I’d love to hear your honest answer.

​Keep on rocking, and failing, and growing, Warriors!

​Yours, Gertraud

PS: The quote ‘Let this be the Year when you choose Courage over Fear’ is by Morgan Harper Nichols. A wonderful storyteller, writer and musician, who features real life stories and struggles in her art. It is like every quote reads my mind…