The Fear Of Failure – Why It’s Holding You Back

January 2, 2015

We have been conditioned to think that failure is a bad thing. Many of us have a fear of failure. Maybe even you fear failure . . . but not after this video 😉

I remember when I was younger and in high school, we'd go to these parties. A lot of my friends were at the party. But what was even more awesome was that there were girls at these parties.

Yep, that's right – girls. And I remember that one of the most amazing things that could happen at those parties is that you would ask a girl to dance and she would say that word that brings music to your ears – yes. And when that happened, you'd be the happiest man, oh wait no – boy in the world.

The word we hate

Video_Fear_FailureI also remember something stronger – that feeling when you are standing there with some of your friends looking at people on the dance floor, eyeing that one young lady (girl) that you would just love to dance with but were deathly afraid of that word that nobody likes to hear. You know the word – no!

If you heard the word no, life would all of a sudden come to an end. You would all of a sudden be the least cool person in the entire world, the earth would open up and swallow you into a pile of molten lava and you would die – all because she said no – or so you thought (if you were me)

Here's the thing – of all the times that I actually did muster the energy to actually ask someone to dance, I can't remember one no, but what I do remember was many fun dances. The thing I was most afraid of was the thing that hardly ever happened. You have to wonder what makes us live in such fear. Well, lets think about it.

Why we're afraid

When I went to school as a kid and even as an adult, if I made a mistake, I got docked a grade and that wasn't a good thing, because to a certain extent, my future was dependent on my success in school (or so I thought).

When kids do something wrong, they are punished. When they do something right, they are praised.

When we mess up on the job, there are negative repercussions and we might even get fired. And that would probably suck.

When we succeed, we are praised – because we did something good. Not because we necessarily pushed through a difficult situation, but simply because we succeeded, and success – well, it looks good 🙂

Kid-FailureWe grow up being molded with the idea that failure is bad.

Because of this, we become adults who are afraid to take risks because we are afraid that we will fail. We end up being mediocre because mediocrity is easy. It's something we're comfortable with because – we don't want to fail, and if not failing results in mediocrity, we're ok with that.

This sucks, because the natural result is that we don't ever accomplish anything great.

If you can show me one successful person who hasn't had a lot of failures and I will show you a liar.

Why we should embrace failure

Failure is a process that I believe God uses to prepare us for success, and if we never fail because we never take risks, we aren't able to achieve the full extent of what God has prepared for us.

And for those of you who don’t believe in God, you can take out that word and put in the word life. It still works. And yes – it can often be quite painful.

What about pain?

Workout-strugglesIf we think about it, even our bodies were designed to teach us that pain can be a good thing. Think about it – we go to the gym to exercise (or we think about going). After exercising, we end up being sore. Why? because our muscle fibers have literally been torn. Many microscopic tears, all throughout the belly of that muscle.

The next day we wake up in pain. Why in the world would we ever want to experience pain? Pain isn't fun and you know what – pain HURTS. It HURTS. However, it's a part of the process. After the pain, more protein is formed.

That protein helps us to build more muscle, gives us more strength and allows us to do more over time.

In the same way, when we experience the pain of failure, it hurts. But that's ok, because in the process we build emotional, physical and psychological proteins. And those proteins also allow us to rebuild. Hey, I like that.

Anyways, they allow us to withstand more force, more stress, more of the struggles than we have ever encountered before, and if that's the case – why in the world would we want to be afraid of the very thing that will prepare us for the things we are trying to accomplish.

How in the world are you going to handle being a millionaire if you can't manage your finances when you're a thousandaire. Wait, is that a word?

How in the world are you going to handle having that dream job if you can't manage to control yourself in your current job.

How are you going to be the master of many if you can't handle the few.

My charge

FailureSuccessSo from now on, I want to encourage you to embrace your fear, be willing to take risks, step outside your comfort zone. Do what you think you can't do because you have been afraid to fail.

Look at failure in the face and laugh.

Is there a project you've been thinking about starting but have been delaying because you don't want to mess up? Start it now.

Do you have ideas you want to share with the world but have been neglecting to do because you don't know how people would respond? Start sharing them now.

Is there a person you are thinking about telling how you feel but you're afraid that they won't feel the same way? Tell him or her now.

Stop living in fear of the very thing that will help you grow.

Will everything turn out well immediately? Maybe not. Maybe you'll fail. But in the process, maybe you'll learn.

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  • Angela Chouinard says:

    Leslie there is indeed a project I’ve been procrastinating on because I perceived it as complicated and prone to technical difficulties and I was afraid I would get frustrated, mess it up and not finish it from discouragement. Today’s video was like you were reading my mind and your timing was awesome, this being the odd day after a holiday. I am free and I’m going to start today. If I have technical difficulties I will not get discouraged, I will get an expert and some help instead. Bless you and a happy New Year to you and your family.

    • Woohoo, honestly – your comment lets me know that my goal was accomplished. I’m thrilled to hear that you are taking action. That really is where it all begins. Yes, you will encounter issues and setbacks, but that’s a part of the journey.

  • Ellie says:

    Great video/post to start the New Year. Just what we needed to move forward! Thanks Leslie.

  • Awesome introduction to your video! I was not allowed to go to dances, But once in high school I remeber being brave and asking a boy to attend a sports banquet. It was devastating to this quiet girl when he said no. However, I remeber being so glad that I had at least tried so when we were both alone at the banquet I had fun knowing I looked good and he made his choice.
    I can see how these storie from our youth play into out futures now.
    Fear is magnified in the world of blogging. We are open before the world. It is a real vulnerable place. Even if it is only in my mind.
    I have to ask myself, “would I like to step away or take the risk and get my voice out there?”
    I would rather go away having voiced my message and fall in my face, then to quit now and never chance the failure!
    Now to muster up that same courage I utilzed in high school and take the risk. Thank you, Leslie for your encouragement.

    • That’s such a valid point Mary. All this stuff is magnified online. Once you start a blog, you are putting yourself out there at a different level, and that can magnify the fear. And that fear is real.

      But the potential rewards are so huge that for me – it’s so worth moving forward in spite of the fear. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Awesome stuff.

  • Rafael López-Zepeda says:

    Congrats Leslie, great post, failure…we have to face all our tasks with courage, looking to the right path. I invest the time of all these holidays to study some of the courses of Become a Blogger University and I take note of lots of advices that the videos can provide. Now I have many thinks to do putting in practice your advices to improve my blogging business. Thanks Leslie.

    • Rafael, it’s great to have you as a part of the University. Yes, we have to face our fears and push through them. Thanks for trusting me to provide you with some guidance on this journey. Looking forward to seeing you succeed with your blog.

  • Lovelyn says:

    Great video, Leslie. As someone who let fear control her life for too long I really appreciate it. I’ve only recently started breaking out of my comfort zone and have found that there are many rewards in doing so.

  • Angela Brown says:

    Awesomely inspirational! Thanks for your video, Leslie. Yes, failure hurts; bites, stings. Not only that, but there are meanies out there who enjoy hashing on your failure(s) using it to manipulate in some way. As a classroom teacher I see it too often amongst kids and their peers (sadly, even amongst fellow teacher colleagues). You gotta have an “up yours” attitude and focus on learning and moving forward. Only then will you begin to see results in your favor.

  • Back2naure4life says:

    Lovely Leslie, this is something that I really had to look into myself about, FEAR, false evidence appearing real. I can remember the first time stepping on stage to sing. I had managed to force myself to go audition for this show, I was totally suffering from stage fright. My right leg was shaking, luckily I had a long jean skirt on so people did not notice. You only had 30 seconds to sing, before they stop you. I sang for the 30 seconds, then I started to feel comfortable and then I wondered to myself if I had gone to sing the whole song I would of been fine. This was when I was a teenager, but I had all this fear, the mind was working overtime, with negative thoughts. Like you said, even if you fail, this is a way to learn, I think depending on how your thinking, you can see this as a growth mechanism or in many cases people give up at this point. I had to and will always be working on my inner being, from how I speak to my sub-conscious mind to having more self love and empowering myself to get to the point of where I am at today and onwards on my path. Getting to the root of the fear will defo help someone to eradicate the fear bit by bit.

  • Debbie Spice says:

    Great video Leslie!! You always make me smile or laugh in your video or podcasts 🙂 I burned the fear in a burning bowl ritual on New Years Eve, things have started changing for me already! Happy New Year Leslie, make it awesome!

  • Michelle Y. Talbert says:

    Thanks, Leslie! This was great…and I love the failure as speed bump graphic…I may have to borrow that one too! LOL

  • andystitt829 says:

    Leslie, great video!

    Seth Godin is the first person I heard introduce the fact that we have been conditioned to avoid failure in school because failure was bad, embarrassing, etc. I’ve realized that in the real world, failure is the prerequisite to learning. Real learning. Not just memorizing and spitting back out; real, deep in the guts learning.

    Fear is also a great indication that something is worth doing. If it makes you afraid, as long as it’s not your intuition telling you something is a genuinely bad idea, go for it!


  • James Hennings says:

    This is a hard lesson that must be learned! Readin books has helped me with knowing that failure is a learning experience and should be embraced not feared! Great post!

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