How to Overcome Fear of Failure


Do you sadly stay on the sidelines because you’re afraid to fail?

Are you missing out on new opportunities for growth, adventure and joy because you don’t want to look bad or be the weak link?

Fear of failure is real, and it keeps you from thriving, following your passion and growing into the person you want to become.

If you’re ready to overcome your fear of failure and start thriving try these 4 strategies:

1. Separate your Self from your activity

The fact that something didn’t work out the way you had intended does not mean that YOU are a failure!

When you equate your self-worth with an activity, project, work, competition etc…, fear of failure can become debilitating.

During my competitive kayaking career I would find myself in tears when I didn’t make the podium. I equated my self-worth with my competition results which is totally ridiculous, but felt very real at the time.

The more I made a big deal about my results, the more pressure I put on myself and the worse I would perform. It was a vicious cycle.

To overcome the fear of failure remember that YOU are not your work, performance or activity. You are a unique person with many talents and gifts that go beyond one activity or action. You have much to offer the world.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself

A big part of the fear of failure is the fear of looking bad.

You can only look bad in comparison to something or someone else. Think about that. If you’re not comparing yourself to others, how can you look bad?

Take comparison out of the equation and focus on accepting where you’re at and what’s important to you.

When I performed poorly at a competition I was sure that ‘everyone’ thought I was a crappy kayaker. While I was so focused on what I thought other people thought, the athletes who focused instead on their goals and growth opportunities, experienced a lot of success.

Stop wasting time and energy giving your power away to comparison. Instead, focus on what you can do to grow, improve and reach your goals.

3. Take Courageous Action

The next time you find yourself afraid of failing at something, do the thing anyway. Go for it.

And then continue to take action over and over until you have the realization that taking action isn’t so scary.

If you need to take baby steps that’s fine. Put on your gear, drive yourself to the party, say yes to the project.

Structure can help a lot when it comes to taking action. Schedule it in your calendar, set alarms, get an accountability partner or a coach who will support you in repeatedly taking action.

As the hockey great, Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

4. Don’t be attached to the outcome

The only way to take courageous action when we’re afraid to fail is to detach ourselves from the outcome. It’s the possibility of a failed outcome that generates fear.

Focus on the quality and feeling of the action itself, not on the outcome.

For example, there’s no way for me to know as I’m writing a blog post if people will like it or not. Each time I write I experience fear that it’s terrible and people won’t like it.  I can’t control how you, or anybody views, likes or dislikes my writing. If I only focused on the fear of people not liking it I would never write!

Instead I focus on the act of writing itself and the passion I feel for creating content that helps people overcome fear and cultivate courage and confidence. And then I press ‘publish,’ know that I’ve done my best and stay open to what comes.

And, remember that failure is something to fear only if you’ve labeled it as bad.

Ultimately you get to choose how you view failure. Do you let it defeat you or allow it to teach and fuel you?

If you’re waiting for fear to disappear, you’ll wait a long time. Our brains are designed to assess threats and opportunities to keep us safe.

Practicing the strategies above can help you choose out of fear and focus on thriving instead.

More Courageous Action…

If you’re ready to overcome fear of failure through courageous action and create a new context for yourself in 2020 you want to check out my 90-day Courage and Confidence Coaching:

Click Here to learn more about working with me in 90-day Courage and Confidence Mindset Coaching.

Click Here to learn more about working with me in 90-Day Courage and Confidence Coaching for Whitewater Kayakers.

Click Here to learn more about working with me in 90-Day Ayurveda Health Coaching.

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