Four Myths that Cause Us to Fear Failure

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

—J. K. Rowling

It’s part of life, part of business, part of any challenging endeavor that we undertake. We’ve all experienced it, we’ve all survived it, yet we all fear it: failure. Why does the mere thought of it undermine the self-esteem of even the most confident among us? We fear failure because we believe the lies we tell ourselves. Here are four myths that cause us all to fear failing:

We will be less than

We often fear that if we fail we will be seen as less than perfect. Well, here’s the cold hard truth, none of us are perfect and we never will be. Just because we aren’t perfect, doesn’t make us any less valuable, less capable, or less worthy.

We won’t make any progress

We often think that if we are failing, we aren’t making any progress. The fact is, quite the opposite is true. There is more to learn from failure than there is from any amount of success. As long as we are learning, we are making progress.

It will define us

We often fear that failing makes us a failure. We are not defined by our failures; it’s what we do with them that really matters. Failure is an event; it does not speak to who you are, what your values are, or what you are capable of accomplishing.

We won’t recover

We’ve failed before and we‘ll fail again. We recovered last time, we’ll recover this time, and I’m willing to bet that we’ll recover next time. Not to say that recovery isn’t a long hard road, but the lessons are in the journey. And the truth is, the more we fail, the better equipped we become to deal with and recover from our next failure.

Start Failing

The truth is you’re going to fail. You will fail, the person next to you will fail, and the person above you will fail. Failing is an inevitable part of life. But, it is in failing that we find the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to gain confidence. It doesn’t make you less than. It will not hinder your progress. It does not define you. And, despite how you may feel at the time, you will recover. It’s time to stop believing the myths and start failing.

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LIZ is passionate about recognizing, inspiring, and igniting the leader in each of us. She focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership. Liz offers 20+ years of pro-active operations management, problem-solving, team-building, human resources, accounting, and business administration experience in a variety of industries. She serves on the Editorial Review Board for the Independent Journal of Management and Production and the Journal of Managerial Psychology. She has also been a guest lecturer at the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, Westminster College.
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Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli

Every person, at least once in their life, found themselves facing an obstacle that seemed insurmountable and that often turned into a failure. Allowing this to define our future choices depends only on ourselves. Fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles to success, both professional and personal, as it lets us break down and allows worries to take over our lives.
To overcome the daily challenges, a change of perspective is therefore necessary: ​​what one person considers a defeat, for others it can be a simple setback along one’s path. We need to grasp the positive stimuli of every situation and, with a good dose of courage, be able to face them considering every difficulty as a new challenge.
It is important not to allow failures to make us insecure or afraid. After taking enough time to learn from your mistakes, it would be desirable to “get back in the saddle” and try again. Waiting too long before getting back into the game only increases feelings of fear and anxiety.
The attitude in the face of failure is therefore as important as the actions taken to resolve it. Maintaining an optimistic view, for example, prevents us from considering failure as a permanent condition.
Finally, perseverance is a predisposition towards life that allows us not to surrender in front of any obstacle in our path and to resurrect people from failures.