How to Fight the Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is real. It can be crippling, and in business, the fear of failure can be your worst enemy.

Sometimes your mind works against you and can actually create trouble as saboteurs. So, to toughen up and set yourself up for success, you need to first be aware of your fears, then shift your mindset.

Writer and poet, Jose Bergamin, sums it up beautifully, “To be ready to fail is to be prepared for success.”

Here are ways to help you prepare to fight those fears when they surface. Then you can welcome confidence and more success into your life.

Fight the Fear of Failure By Exchanging Losses for Lessons

“I’ll never do that again,” is often the first thing that comes to mind when you hit one of life’s speed bumps.


Well, learning the hard is integral to success in life, and especially in business. These lessons through collective experience develop your "gut instinct."

That's why it is important to intentionally process mistakes through a simple formula:

Loss + Debrief = Lesson

Doing this helps retain the valuable lesson gained from painful experiences or mistakes.

So after the loss, debrief by asking yourself these questions:

  • What was the end result?
  • What were my hits? (What went well that I need to keep doing?)
  • What were my misses? (What didn't go as I thought it would?)
  • What went wrong in the process? (Make notes to improve the process in the future.)
  • What controllables did I not tend to on the front end?
  • What was out of my control? Should I reference this for the future or do I need to accept it as an immovable roadblock?

The answers you find when spending time to review these questions are valuable. Keep the answers in the back of your mind. When you are able to draw on this information in the future it will give meaning to your mistake. Nothing like a degree from the School of Hard Knocks to set you up for success!

Fight the Fear of Failure By Redefining Failure

John Maxwell, a brilliant author encourages,“Fail early, fail fast, and fail forward.”

When I think of failure I think of how I learned things the fastest.


For example, people comment on how well I know my around Nashville. Yet, I think back on how many wrong turns and late arrivals I experienced as a young adult. Trying to navigate one-way streets and many different sections of town was no joke!

Now when I take a wrong turn in life I think of my internal GPS becoming stronger and stronger.

I simply redefine failure as another data point.

Not convinced? Here are a handful of notable examples to drive my point home:

  • Babe Ruth, best known for his 714 home runs that earned him the title “The Sultan of Swat,” actually struck out 1,330 times.
  • J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter was rejected by 12 major publishers. before she was offered a deal for her insanely successful manuscript.
  • Thomas Edison, whom we can thank for the glorious light bulb, said, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
  • Walt Disney went bankrupt after his first animation venture and was told he “lacked imagination.” HA!
  • Michael Jordan was famously quoted as saying, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

So the important thing to remember is that a life lived in fear of failure is not a life truly lived. Once you are able to shift your mindset and redefine failure, you will be living life like the greats.

Fight the Fear of Failure By Creating Margin

A final way to fight the fear of failure is to keep things as simple as possible. Quite often when you have too much going on you fear “dropping a ball."

When everything is urgent stress mounds and objectivity decreases. It’s hard to focus on what is most important to your success when you hardly have time to prioritize.

So, if you want to step into your greatness you might want to establish some wiggle room to have a fighting chance.

First, take a look at your obligations. What isn’t necessary? What are you doing that is not adding value to your goals?

Start pruning your life and schedule and you’ll find that your fear of failure will subside. Take the cape off, embrace your mortal life and focus on that which moves you in the direction you are called to go.

Unless you work in medicine, you are not saving babies, so stop with the need to be needed. Instead, focus the need to succeed in your goals.

Learn from your lessons, redefine failure and give yourself a break. Then you can feel intentional, productive and even relish in your success.

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