Fear of Failure Can Damage Your Success

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The chances are that it isn’t failure that is holding you back but the fear of failure. Often, we are conditioned to fear failure, as if the lack of it is a guarantee of success. The reality is that being risk-averse can effectively remove you from the world of opportunity that is an essential requisite for advancement in life.

  • Do you ever put off doing something because you are unsure of the result?
  • Do you avoid situations where you need to justify a concept in front of people you don’t know?
  • Do you steer clear of rooms full of strangers although you know that networking is important?

If you have answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you are not alone. Everyone hates to fail but for some, failure presents such a psychological threat that their motivation to avoid it exceeds their motivation to succeed. That fear can sabotage their chances of success in many different ways.

All of us experience situations that do not turn out as we planned, but these are not failures. Failure is an attitude, not an end result. When something does not work out as you hoped, this is not a failure but rather an opportunity to learn, to adapt and to make positive changes based on that experience.

Are you afraid to fail?

Failure hurts but it serves as a road for learning. When failure hurts, it makes you stronger. Setbacks, in reality, are not the problem, it is how you perceive and manage them that is the secret.

Making excuses

People who fail are often those who make excuses. You may think that something is unfair. Maybe you didn’t get that job promotion you expected and you think you were treated unfairly. You can either feel sorry for yourself or use this situation as one from which you can learn.

You give up easily

Your ambition means going through a series of challenges – some easy and some not but if you give up too early, you may spend the rest of your life in regret.

Unrealistic expectations

You may think that a personal target is achievable when it is not, and the challenge is to accept your limitations. That is not a weakness but a strength. Take one step at a time and make sure that what you want to do is realistic within the time frame specified. Take the first challenge – meet it to achieve success and then you will be in a position to go on to the next one, and the one after that.

Successful individuals are achievers in life because they have learned to expect problems; to acknowledge and then manage them. They know that the biggest error they can make is to go through life being afraid of challenges that are inevitable for everyone. Think of your future and ask yourself “How much further might I be towards the next step in my career if I could manage to control my fear of failure?”

We all need to believe in ourselves and to focus on our goals and not on those which others might want. Never be afraid to fail. Expect challenges, set realistic personal targets and expectations – and never give up, because you can make it happen!

In the words of Henry Ford, “Failure is simply an opportunity to being again, this time more intelligently.”

Key points

  • Every successful person you know has experienced failure – they just don’t dwell on it.
  • Being risk-averse is a personal attitude.
  • Never, never, never give up!
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About Author

Carole Spiers

Carole Spiers FISMA, FPSA, MIHPE is the Chair of the International Stress Management Association (ISMAUK) and founder of International Stress Awareness Week. She is an acknowledged authority on corporate stress and CEO of the Carole Spiers Group (London), an International Stress Management & Employee Wellbeing Consultancy. Carole is also a BBC guest broadcaster and author of Show Stress Who’s Boss! and Tolley’s Managing Stress in the Workplace. Carole will be pleased to help, if you are interested in learning about tools and strategies that will help teams to reduce stress, build resilience and improve health and wellbeing. Carole is also part of our Speaker Bureau. If you are interested in Carole training your Assistants or speaking at your event, either virtually or in person, please visit our Speaker Bureau.

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