How To Overcome Fear Of Failure

By Kenny Lee | Confidence

Apr 27

We’ve all heard the great talks from successful speakers, entrepreneurs, motivators and leaders on how failure is inevitable in our quest for success. Tony Robbins, Nick Vujicic, and my childhood favourite Andrew Matthews are some who I look upon to.

We are told to embrace and learn from failure as it is regarded as a greater teacher than success. And to inspire and motivate us further, there is a recent hype where online articles and quotes tend to over-glorify failure to the extent that some might mistaken failure as something to be pursued diligently.

Make no mistake here, success is still the ultimate goals. Failures are just some inconveniences we have to go through.

There is definitely no lack of motivation from the external source as we prepared to venture into unknown challenges. It could be a total career switch in a different industry, quitting your day job to start a business, letting go of a dysfunctional relationship, attempting public speaking, or anything that would cause a paradigm shift in your lifestyle that you’ve never experienced before.

How To Overcome Fear Of Failure

It’s the choices you made

Inspired To Success, Programmed To Fail?

The excitement of venturing into something new usually builds up, until the actual moment where we are to make the jump. That is where doubt crept in and balloons into fear before we realized it. The fear of failure is crippling, as it will crush all your hopes, dreams and haunt you with all the consequences of failure.

If you are like me, and many others, schooled in the conventional education system, then we are trained to avoid failure at all cost from young. That grades and certs matters, that life is a competition like others, and that our worth is measured by success and failure. Eventually, we developed a mindset that we are so accustomed to success, that we mistaken success for staying in the comfort zone, and that taking risk is associated with failure.

While I’ve yet to hit any success on a grand scale, I’ve made a decision in my late 20s, that have brought me a journey of failures with occasional small victories, but also a journey of discovery and wealth of experience that transforms my entire mindset.

To make that leap from the stable comfort zone into uncertainties is alike jumping into the sea and start learning to swim. I could relate that there are fears and doubts that often whisper to my mind along the way, but with determination and a few reliable methods, I managed to push through as I carved a new unpredicted path in my life.

How To Overcome Fear Of Failure

Let fear be your catalyst to success

Turn Fear Of Failure Into Your Advantage

Whenever, I would try something new, challenging and when people around me would doubt my chances of success, I asked myself a few questions, that will spur me on in spite of the uncertainties ahead. Here’s 3 of them:

1. “If not now, then when?” – Every moment you waited to make a decision, sitting there crippled by your fear, is a moment wasted. While opportunities may come again, the circumstances might be different and time may not be by your side.

2. “What’s the worst scenario if you fail?” – Put a stop to wild thoughts. Instead, ask rationally and note down what’s the worst that could happen to you? If it happens, can you recover from it even if it takes you years to do so? If the answer is YES, then make sure you forged this down in your mind, and just move ahead.

3. “What is the greater regret?” – Ask yourself, 10 years down the line, will you regret staying as you are or will you regret trying and fail? Listen to your heart, as it doesn’t lie. Follow your heart, for in the event of failure, it is the heart that is stronger and will guide you through.

If you have the courage to ask hard uncomfortable questions to yourself and act based on what your heart tells you, you can turn fear of failure into a powerful drive that is a powerful drive that may just be the force that pushes you to the road of success.

How To Overcome Fear Of Failure

Failure To Try Is The Greatest Failure

Failure To Try Is The Greatest Failure

In my personal view, staying status quo, even when your heart cries for you to step on an untrodden path, is a failure by itself an injustice to your own conscience. In the end, success is about achieving what you wanted, and the manifestation of success is different for each of us.

But what is common is the decision we made or the opportunities wasted that defines our destiny. It takes great mental strength to start, and even greater one to sustain and endure along the journey, as obstacles and challenges assault us from all sides.

Perhaps overcoming the fear of failure itself is a small victory by itself. I’ve made my first step of overcoming my fear of failure. Have you?

About the Author

I am an engineer-turned-writer who once struggle with social anxiety. After overcoming problems inflicted by low self-esteem and the fear of interaction, I realize the need for taking a holistic approach in developing our mind. I'm sharing my experience, remedies, and techniques that interest me in my quest to be a better self.

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(19) comments

Jaime April 27, 2016

Kenny Lee that is a great post. Very encouraging and motivating. I honestly do get scared to try new things especially when it’s way out of my comfort zone. Like you though I push myself to try new things because it takes the wondering away. Only one way to to succeed and that’s to try. Thank you Kenny for an amazing read. Have a good one.

Reply
    Kenny Lee April 27, 2016

    Hi Jaime,

    Yes, let’s not leave any room for regrets and missed chances just because we let our fear take over us.

    Reply
Suzanne April 27, 2016

I am constantly working on the messages in my head regarding fear of failure and trying to adopt the mindset towards success.

thanks for the article
Suzanne

Reply
    Kenny Lee April 27, 2016

    Hi Suzanne,

    Our mind can me programmed to thrive in spite of encountering failure. All the best to you.

    Reply
sarah April 27, 2016

Most of us have to fail in order to learn and improve. Although no-one likes failing,it can be viewed as a stepping stone to success, as long as you don’t give up. As I keep telling my teenage kids ‘If you think you can’t, you won’t. If you think you can, you will.’ Even successful authors have rejection slips in their past!

Reply
    Kenny Lee April 27, 2016

    Hi Sarah,

    Totally agree on your point of view. I myself hate failing as well. But I agree with you that it can be used as a stepping stone to success. The hardest part is to take the first step.

    Reply
amr sallam April 27, 2016

Thank you Kenny. What I loved about it is following one’s heart, I think its the best thing to do for all of us. Thinking too rational, trying to avoid every mistake in advance , and being too cautious will often translate into staying in our comfort zone, and will restrict us from flying high, but taking calculated risks, and believing in ourselves, and in our intuitions, beside an average degree of cautiousness will be optimal

Reply
    Kenny Lee April 27, 2016

    Hi Amr,
    I get what you mean, perhaps the best is when the heart and the mind are able to synergize as one. That is when the greatest balance is achieved and great things happened.

    Reply
Sam April 27, 2016

Great post Kenny! One of the things I really loved here is that you expose our fear of failure in staying in the “comfort zone”. I know a lot about this place. It isn’t that comfortable at all! Usually, it’s close to a living hell, but we know the ropes here, so stick it out! Yes, we seldom take the time to really evaluate what is happening to our lives. what is happening, is we are being milked of our vitality and time by someone who figured out their game! It is slavery, and one of the hardest to break free from, because we are holding the keys to our own prison, and too scared to drop them! I faced this harshly during the recession in 2012. I saw so many people living in the streets, people like me! I was terrified of losing my ability to control my personal world, and it got worse when I was laid off. I believe your advice will help many who are facing the fear of becoming themselves, and going it alone. I definitely will come to your site repeatedly! Thanks Kenny!

Reply
    Kenny Lee April 27, 2016

    The more we fear losing, the more we will cling to whatever we have. That in itself closes door of opportunities for better things to come along our way.

    Reply
Marie April 27, 2016

Hi Kenny it’s a great topic and I think most people in business and entrepreneurship recognise that your attitude and mental approach to anything is ultimately what determines your success.

My favourite quote is by Henry Ford who said – Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right. For me success in business is all about taking calculated risks and moving outside your comfort zone otherwise you will continue to stay exactly where you are with just what you have.

Reply
    Kenny Lee April 28, 2016

    Hi Marie,

    I agree with you that people in business and entrepreneurship always have to overcome their fear of failure and keep stepping out of their comfort zone. I would also suggest that this mentality applies to those not on their entrepreneur path to a certain degree. It prevents their life being stagnant and it encourages growth and learning which improves a person as a whole.

    Reply
Marcus April 27, 2016

The path towards success is paved with failures. Success is not a complete absence of failure, it is successfully bouncing back from failure over and over again until you get things right. The best way to learn is by doing, and when you fail you learn your biggest lessons.

It’s better to regret something you HAVE done than to regret something have NOT done.

Reply
    Kenny Lee April 28, 2016

    Marcus,

    Totally agree on your point. I will definitely regret on something i HAVE NOT done. But to those that I chose to do and failed, I wouldn’t really say is a regret for me but an opportunity to learn and grow no matter how bitter the experience is.

    Reply
Farshid April 28, 2016

Wow,
Great advice. We are conditioned to fear what ifs! The ones that are resilient and see failures as a requirement to succeed and never giving up will eventually succeed. Here is one of quotes by Albert Einstein:
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Reply
Barbra June 14, 2016

I really enjoyed reading this article. I have the same problem. I never put myself out there or take risk due to fear of failure and because of that i missed out on a lot of opportunities. It is something I struggle with daily. Thank you for the advice this something I will apply to my daily life.

Reply
    Kenny Lee June 15, 2016

    Hi,

    Fear of failure originates from the fear mechanism that instinctive. It appears real but it’s not. On the other hand, regret of not taking chances when opportunities present itself is very real.

    Kenny

    Reply
Boss Body UK June 24, 2016

Hi Kenny,

This was pleasing to read, I listen to motivational speeches whilst I read and do work and quite a lot of it has finally set in. To fail is not to be a failure, a fail is a first action in learning, an opportunity for you to learn how not to do something. As long as you look at it with that perception then you will never become a failure. Failures let their fails prevent their ambitions.

Lovely post, Keep up the good work

Reply
    Kenny Lee June 26, 2016

    Hi,

    Thank you. Failure is more of the mindset instead of the event that has happened. It takes discipline to change our mindset. But it can be done.

    Kenny.

    Reply
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