Do you suffer from kakorrhaphiophobia?

Andrew Neitlich

The above-mentioned term, according to Peter Bowler’s book The Superior Person’s Second Book of Weird & Wondrous Words, means a morbid fear of failure. (He notes the irony of the word, for surely someone who must tell his or her doctor that he suffers from this condition will trigger the condition by trying to pronounce it correctly!).

Fear of failure is something any self-employed web designer/developer must overcome, and quickly. It is hard to do, because most professionals are trained to be perfectionists.

Here are areas where you almost have to fail in order to eventually succeed:

1. Marketing. Some marketing tactics will work, some will not. And most need to be continuously tested and improved. If you give up after getting a poor response your first time, you will not get far.

2. Products. Some products will be in demand, some will not. And it is better to launch a “good enough” product than to wait for perfection.

3. Business ventures. Most entrepreneurs are lucky to get one successful venture. And sometimes it can take 10 tries to get 1 good one. I like the cheetah’s approach to getting prey, as noted in other articles on Sitepoint: If you see an opportunity, go after it fast. If you see it slipping away, stop, catch your breath, and go after different prey tomorrow.

4. Any form of client or human interaction. Yes, we all should strive to be professional at all times. But humans are tricky. We all tick differently, and interpret things in different ways. It is hard to know the impression we make, as that impression depends as much on the other person as it does on us. So we will inevitably fail in making a good impression on some people. Over time, hopefully, we can get better at sensing different styles and adapting to them.

So get out there and be good enough instead of perfect, and fail from time to time. The best (A+) students often end up working for the good (B) students. Start being a good student; stop being an A+ student.

Say it with me: No more kakorrhaphiophobia!