Failure and Fear

How happy and successful people view fear and failure

Graphical representation of success

Fear takes many forms including fear of failure, fear of commitment, fear of the unknown, and fear of success. Cambridge dictionary defines fear as “unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen.” Fear can override all other feelings because it is a powerful emotional state that can make you act irrational. It exaggerates non-existent issues and forces you to make false conclusions. When actions are based on fear, it is almost impossible to make good decisions. Fear opens you to depression, desperation, frustration, and anger. Although fear when positively applied reigns us in from performing extremely dangerous activities, it is important to differentiate between fear that triggers illogicality and fear that induces apprehension from performing dangerous actions. Fear holds millions back daily from growing, succeeding, dreaming, and conquering new heights.

Fear stifles potentials, stagnates, limits well-being, reduces actions, and gets you agitated. Your actions feed on your imagination, hence the reason to avoid causing great distress to yourself through fear. Ironically, life is a measure of what you fear. To conquer your fear, there is first a need to recognise the fear, decide to work on it, and most importantly take bold steps in reaching your potentialities with allowing fear stifle you.

If you want to be a high-achiever, you must recognise that regardless of position, occupation and situation, taking risks and performing action is vital to reaching your goals. You must never at any time allow the self-limiting and dangerous fear prevent you from taking opportunities in life. However, you are not alone, as fear is a normal feeling for everyone on earth. The key to enjoying life is never to allow fear to hold you back from acting or going after what you want in life.

How do successful people view fear and failure?

The road to success is always paved with fear and failure no matter your occupation. Whether you are a footballer, a firefighter, musician, or an entrepreneur, there is a need to overcome failure in order to reach the pinnacle. Failure to successful people is a part of the success story. It is an inevitable challenge that must be overcome every time they undertake an action. Successful people inevitable see fear and failure as:

As a stepping stone

A common factor to all successful people is their ability to embrace failure because of its inevitability. Failure basically pushes them on. It is never an opportunity to give up on their pursuit of success. The first billionaire author, J.K. Rowling said, “I wasn’t going to give up until every single publisher turned me down, but I often feared that would happen.”

As a lesson

Bill Gates regularly discusses the need to learn from failure. In his words, “In the corporate world, when someone makes a mistake, everyone runs for cover. At Microsoft, I try to put an end to that kind of thinking. It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure.” The keyword is to learn lessons from failure so you can project rightly the wrong things you have done. As Thomas Edison did until he succeeded in invented the light bulb, failure teaches you to avoiding the same mistakes.

As an opportunity to innovate

The knowledge that failure is only an opportunity to innovate and take bold steps has driven a lot of people to success. Wood Allen, the first film director to directly speak to the audience said, “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Overcoming fear starts with performing actions, and performing actions means you can’t always be successful but you must always try and innovate.

At each point of their career and lives, successful people like Michael Jordan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Steve Jobs have had to overcome fear and failure. The practical steps below will give you an insight into overcoming fear and gunning for success.

Practical steps to overcome fear and use it positively

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The following steps if ingrained into your life principles will help you overcome fear and enjoy a successful life.

  1. Know you are not alone

No matter how strong the fear is, there is a guarantee that you are not alone. Knowing that there are other thousands of people out there fearing the same thing as you should comfort you. A good way to overcome fear is to join a group of people that have successfully overcome the fear. The comfort and support you get from joining the group will strengthen your resolve to overcome the fear. The knowledge that some group of people have successfully overcome the fear of flying for instance should strengthen your resolve to do the same. You can also join a group of people fighting the battle to overcome the fear. Knowing that you’re all fighting to overcome the fear is a great way to support each other until you come out just fine to take a bold step.

  1. Face the truth

Make a list of your fears. What scares you? What are you most afraid of? It is time to challenge your trepidation by separating your concerns from baseless fears. Imagining unfortunate events is dangerous, and remember you need not bring to life unfortunate events through your imagination. You can write down a list of your fears on a paper to think through it and you will discover, with good meditation, that most of them are baseless.

  1. Rewire your brain

One of the surest ways of overcoming fear is to rewire your thinking. Generally, you have to build up your self-confidence by consciously noting the kind of things you allow into your mind. The mind has been shaped by events and experiences in the past hence the importance of developing mantras, affirmations, thoughts, and courage that help you erase these past hardships or experience that has caved you in. Read books on courage, strength, knowledge, commitment, consistency, and motivation to positively tune your inner mind. From childhood, you may have heard of many superstitions or limits on what you can have or be, but taking the initiative to rewire your brain will make conquering fear easier. Reading books on your peculiar fears can help give you clues on how to overcome it. There are several books written for “dummies” and they are sure to provide guides to performing actions. Watching a movie or a documentary can also provide the same enlightenment as reading books.

  1. Have a plan

A well thought out plan saves you from worry and anxiety. A well-laid plan detailing your goals and dreams will make a big difference between taking actions and fear. Accompany the plan with the “how and why” so you may have a clear vision of the necessary steps. After setting clear goals with plans of how to achieve them, commence action. Lack of plan allows fear to gradually creep in until it cripples you. Being selective about decisions will give you comfortability. Make good decisions about the kind of life you want to live, where you want to go to, and who you want to be with. Making the wrong choices can inevitably inspire fear, making you uncomfortable. Fear will not arise when you have a mental projection of your future which would be brought to life with actions.

  1. Act on your plan

After writing the plans, no matter how extensive it is, start taking actions on them now. It is understandable to take small steps at first in order to try things out. To build confidence for larger actions, you can set goals or work with a friend on the plan. Setting goals creates small victories for you, whether you are preparing to be a marathon runner or speak in another language, start with small victories. By creating the small victories, you can boost your confidence for larger actions. Also, if starting by yourself is so difficult, working with a friend to encourage you and push you is an option. The greatest boxers have sparring partners that push them during practice so they can be ready for the big stage. By working with friends, you create trust in yourself and boost your chance of success.

  1. Allow change

By nature, people are afraid of change. Human beings generally love the status quo, fearing a change in the situation will disrupt their lives. But change is a necessary part of life that transforms you into a new realm of life. Leaving your comfort zone is necessary although it may be frightening at first, but each change serves a purpose. More so, change teaches peculiar lessons for achieving your goals.

  1. Listen to your intuition

Your intuition is the mental GPS of your life for making on the spot decisions. Beyond that, with your intuition you can project into the future where you need to go, how you should perform an action and what to avoid or otherwise. Basically, your intuition can banish fear if you follow it.

  1. Breathe

Breathing is such a natural activity that a lot of people never take cognisance of it. To relax and overcome anxiety always intentionally take deep breathes. Unlike shallow and quick breathes which catapults all other fears into action, deep and slow breathes help your body calm down. With this state of mind, you can then stop to focus. So, when you are fearful in a situation especially concerning physical activities such as flying, sky-diving, and jet-skiing; stop, take a deep breath until you are calm. The reason for your fear of those activities is a need for predictability of safety and security. However, even professionals at these actions can make mistakes. Don’t allow the desire to predict every situation grow your fear, take a deep breathe, then go all out to perform the action successfully.

  1. Look at the evidence

When you are scared by fearful thoughts, it is important to look at the evidence of the number of people that have succeeded in the same position. For instance, if you’re scared of surfing, ask yourself if anybody has ever successfully learnt to surf without being injured? What would you say to a friend in the same situation? If there have been people who succeeded at performing the action and succeeding at it, that’s your clue that it’s never beyond you. In some cases, looking at the worst-case scenario while analysing the evidence will inform you on how disastrous your fear maybe. In such cases, it may be perfectly rational to be anxious, but the range of evidence will help you plough on.

  1. Relax

Stress and pressure coupled with responsibilities can lead to fear. Relaxing and meditating will alleviate your anxieties especially in situations where it is an accumulation of stress. Calm down, take a deep breathe, relax, tell yourself positive affirmative words, keep your head up, and keep working to success. You must also learn to surrender to forces beyond you as reaching a balance in life is about changing what you can and leaving what you can’t. Surrender and be relaxed about powerful life realities which you can’t change, however, find solutions that work for you in order to overcome your fears regarding them. Being calm and relaxed in such situations is a great tool.A hand writing on a board

  1. Be grateful

Being grateful for how far you have come is a great way to overcome the fear of the future. You already know if you have come this far, then, there are possibilities of having a better future. So, whenever you are anxious, be grateful for what you have. You can take a short note of how much you can be thankful for. If you’re afraid of hiking for example, be grateful for your legs. There is nothing too small to be grateful for. More so, it strengthens your resolve to believe in yourself and banish fear. As you are being grateful, add a necessity to be kind to others to your portfolio because focusing on helping people fuels your confidence. If you help others with their fear, you will be pushed to overcome yours also. Combine gratefulness with kindness to others and watch your fears dissipate.

  1. Get a life coach

Whether you have a fear of success or failure, a life coach can guide you in your life journey. The coach will help you examine the source of your fears, your strengths, and give you advice on how to achieve your dreams. Speak to a life coach to get the best ideas of what you want, what’s stopping you, and how you can succeed.

  1. Go back to basics

A large number of people want to overcome their fears by alcohol, drugs or any addition which could be more dangerous than the fear itself, as they are caught in a vicious cycle. With simple actions such as having wholesome diet, walking, sleeping, and meditating, you can overcome fear. Never try to be perfect for life is full of stresses which continue to distort lives. So, in order to reduce the anxiety, live life to the fullest without recourse to perfection. Seeking to be perfect can be a call for failure. When bad days or setbacks happen, take it on the chin, keep going and never turn to alcohol or drugs.


Fear is part of the human DNA, but you must not allow fear to control you. By taking the necessary actions and following the helpful advice in this guide, you can build your confidence to help you accomplish any task. If you truly believe in yourself and you put your mind to it, overcoming fear is an easy task.