March 27, 2024

9 Steps To Overcome Fear of Failure And Master Your Life

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As you move forward on your journey from where you are to where you want to be, you are going to have to confront your fears and overcome fear of failure.

Fear is natural. Whenever you start a new project, take on a new venture, or put yourself out there, there is usually fear.

Unfortunately, most people let fear stop them from taking the necessary steps to achieve their dreams.

Successful people, on the other hand, feel the fear along with the rest of us but don’t let it keep them from doing anything they want to do—or have to do.

They take action and understand that fear is something to be acknowledged, experienced, and taken along for the ride. They have learned, as author Susan Jeffers suggests, “to feel the fear and do it anyway.

In this article, we'll examine how to overcome fear of failure: what it means, what causes it, and how to overcome it to enjoy true success in work, by taking action in life.

#1. Why Are We So Fearful And We Can Overcome Fear of Failure.

Millions of years ago, fear was our body’s way of signaling us that we were out of our comfort zone. It alerted us to possible danger, and gave us the burst of adrenaline we needed to run away.

Unfortunately, though this response was useful in the days when saber-toothed tigers were chasing us, today most of our threats are not all that life-threatening.

Today, fear is more of a signal that we must stay alert and cautious. We can feel fear, but we can still move forward anyway.

Think of your fear as a 2-year-old child who doesn’t want to go grocery shopping with you. You wouldn’t let a 2-year-old’s mentality run your life.

Because you must buy groceries, you’ll just have to take the 2-year-old along with you. Fear is no different. In other words, acknowledge that fear exists but don’t let it keep you from doing important tasks.

#2. You Have to Be Willing to Feel the Fear.

Some people will do anything to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of fear. If you are one of those people, you run an even bigger risk of never getting what you want in life.

Most of the good stuff requires taking a risk. And the nature of a risk is that it doesn’t always work out.

People do lose their investments, people do forget their lines, people do fall off mountains, people do die in accidents.

But as the old adage so wisely tells us, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I was once watching interview of Jeff Arch, who wrote the screenplay for the movie Sleepless in Seattle, he was telling in his interview.

I am about to launch the biggest gamble of my life—writing and directing a two-million-dollar comedy, when I have never directed before, and using my own money plus raising other money to fund it—and I really need to succeed at this.

Really, it’s an all-or-nothing situation. And the thing that I’m experiencing right now, which I think is really important and that a lot of people who write about success leave out, is you’ve got to be willing to be terrified.

Because I am terrified and feeling the fear about what I’m about to do. But it’s not immobilizing. It’s a good terrified; it’s a terrified that keeps you on your toes.

I know I have to do this because I had a very clear vision, and I am willing to stand alone without agreement from the industry, which I learned you have to do from when I was pitching Sleepless in Seattle.

Believe me, when you start pitching an idea about a love story where the lead characters don’t meet, you are alone. Everybody told me, “You’re out of your freaking mind.” And one thing I discovered is when everyone says you’re out of your mind, you just might be on to something.

So, I had these reference points from my past experience. I was alone back then. And I was right. I’ve learned you have to believe in your dream and overcome fear of failure.

Because even if everyone is telling you you’re wrong, that still might not mean anything—you just might be right. You reach a point where you say, “This is it.

I’m throwing everything into this. And it’s got to succeed.” It’s like the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez in 1519.

To prevent any thought of retreating from his mission, after he landed in Mexico, he burned all of his ships.

Well, I’ve rented new ships just for the sake of burning them. I took out loans on ships that weren’t even mine.

I’m throwing money, credibility—every single thing there is—into my new project. And it’s either going to be a home run or a strikeout—not a single or a double.

I know there’s a terror in doing this, but there’s also this confidence. It isn’t going to kill me. It might make me broke, it might leave me in debt, it might make me lose credibility, and it might make the journey back a whole lot harder.

But unlike Cortez, I’m not in a business where they kill you if you goof up. I think one of the secrets to my success is that I’m willing to be terrified, and I think a lot of people are not willing to be scared to death.

And that’s why they don’t achieve the big dream.

#3. Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real.

Another important aspect to remember about fear is that, as humans, we’ve also evolved to the stage where almost all of our fears are now self-created.

We frighten ourselves by fantasizing negative outcomes to any activity we might pursue or experience.

Luckily, because we are the ones doing the fantasizing, we are also the ones who can stop the fear and bring ourselves into a state of clarity and peace by facing the actual facts, rather than giving in to our imaginations.

We can choose to be sensible. We can take action in the right direction and overcome fear of failure. Psychologists like to say that fear means 

  • Fantasized 
  • Experiences
  • Appearing
  • Real

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#4. To Overcome Fear of Failure Make a List of Things You Are Afraid Of.

To help you better understand how we actually bring unfounded fear into our lives, make a list of the things you are afraid of. 

This is not a list of things you are afraid of, such as being afraid of spiders, but things you’re afraid to do, such as being afraid to pick up a spider.

For example, I am afraid to:

  1. Ask my boss for a raise
  2. Ask Sally out for a date
  3. Go skydiving
  4. Leave my kids home alone with a sitter
  5. Leave this job that I hate
  6. Take 2 weeks away from the office
  7. Ask my friends to look at my new business opportunity
  8. Delegate any part of my job to others
  9. Now go back and restate each fear using the following format:
  10. I want to __________, and I scare myself by imagining __________.

The key words are I scare myself by imagining. All fear is self-created by imagining some negative outcome in the future. 

Using some of the same fears listed above, the new format would look like this:

  1. I want to ask my boss for a raise, and I scare myself by imagining he would say no and be angry with me for asking. 
  2. I want to ask Sally out for a date, and I scare myself by imagining that she would say no and I would feel embarrassed.
  3. I want to go skydiving, and I scare myself by imagining that my parachute wouldn’t open and I would be killed.
  4. I want to leave my kids home with a sitter, and I scare myself by imagining that something terrible would happen to them.
  5. I want to leave this job I hate to pursue my dream, and I scare myself by imagining I would go bankrupt and lose my house.
  6. I want to ask my friends to look at my new business opportunity, and I scare myself by imagining they will think I am only interested in making money off of them

Can you see that you are the one creating the fear?

#5. How to Take Action The Right Way And Get Rid Of Your Fear.

One way to actually disappear your fear is to ask yourself what you’re imagining that is scary to you, and then replace that image with its positive opposite.

I was once flying to some place, I noticed the woman next to me was gripping the arms of her seat so tightly her knuckles were turning white.

I politely, started talking to her. I asked her, “Are you afraid?”

“Yes.”

“Would you be willing to close your eyes and tell me what thoughts or images you are experiencing in your head?”

After she closed her eyes, she replied, “I just keep imagining the plane not getting off the runway and crashing.”

“I see. Tell me, what are you headed to Mumbai for?” 

“I’m going there to spend four days with my grandchildren”

“Great.

Can you imagine playing with your grand children, laughing, giggling and having fun” 

“Yes.”

“Can you see the smiles and the looks of wonder on your grandchildren’s faces?” “Uh-huh.”

At that point I started to sing, “It’s a small world after all; it’s a small world after all…” Her face relaxed, her breathing deepened, and her hands released their grip on the arms of the seat.

In her mind, she was already at Mumbai. She had replaced the catastrophic picture of the plane crashing with a positive image of her desired outcome, and instantly her fear disappeared.

You can use this same technique to disappear any fear that you might ever experience.

#6. Replace the Physical Sensations Fear Brings.

Another technique to overcome fear of failure is to focus on the physical sensations you’re currently feeling—sensations you’re probably just identifying as fear.

Next, focus on those feelings you would like to be experiencing instead—courage, self-confidence, calm, joy. 

Fix these two different impressions firmly in your mind’s eye, then slowly shuttle back and forth between the two, spending about 15 seconds in each one.

After a minute or two, the fear will dissipate and you will find yourself in a neutral, centered place.

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#7. Remember When You Triumphed in the Face of Fear.

Did you ever learn to dive off a diving board? If so, you probably remember the first time you walked to the edge of the board and looked down.

The water looked a lot deeper than it really was. And considering the height of the board and the height of your eyes above the board, it probably looked like a very long way down. You were scared.

But did you look at your mom or dad or the diving instructor and say, “You know, I’m just too afraid to do this right now. I think I’ll go do some therapy on this, and if I can get rid of my fear, I’ll come back and try again…”?

No! You didn’t say that. You felt the fear, somehow mustered up courage from somewhere, and jumped into the water.

You felt the fear and did it anyway. When you surfaced, you probably swam like crazy to the side of the pool and took a few well earned deep breaths.

Somewhere, there was a little rush of adrenaline, the thrill of having survived a risk, plus the thrill of jumping through the air into the water.

After a minute, you probably did it again, and then again and again—enough to where it got to be really fun.

Pretty soon, all of the fear was gone and you were doing cannonballs to splash your friends and maybe even learning how to do a backflip.

If you can remember that experience or the first time you drove a car or the first time you kissed someone on a date, you’ve got the model for everything that happens in life.

New experiences will always feel a little scary. They’re supposed to. That’s the way it works. But every time you face a fear and do it anyway, you build up that much more confidence in your abilities.

#8. Scale Down the Risk To Overcome Fear of Failure.

Anthony Robbins says, “If you can’t, you must, and if you must, you can.” I agree. It is those very things that we are most afraid to do that provide the greatest liberation and growth for us.

If a fear is so big that it paralyzes you, scale down the amount of risk. Take on smaller challenges and work your way up. If you’re starting your first job in sales, call on prospects or customers you think will be the easiest to sell to first.

If you’re asking for money for your business, practice on those lending sources whom you wouldn’t want to get a loan from anyway.

If you’re anxious about taking on new responsibilities at work, start by asking to do parts of a project you’re interested in. If you’re learning a new sport, start at lower levels of skill.

Master those skills you need to learn, move through your fears, and then take on bigger challenges.

#9. Take a Leap of Faith And Go For It.

All the successful people I know have been willing to take a chance—a leap of faith—even though they were afraid.

Sometimes they were terrified, but they knew if they didn’t act, the opportunity would pass them by. They trusted their intuition and they simply went for it.

Mike Kelley lives in paradise and owns several companies under the umbrella of Beach Activities of Maui.

With only a year of college under his belt (he never did return to get his degree), Mike left Las Vegas at age 19 for the islands of Hawaii and ended up selling suntan lotion by the pool at a hotel in Maui.

From these humble beginnings, Mike went on to create a company with 175 employees and over $5 million in annual revenues that provides recreational experiences (catamaran and scuba diving excursions) for tourists and concierge services and business centers for many of the island’s hotels.

Mike credits much of his success to always being willing to take a leap when needed and overcoming his fear of failure by taking action.

When Beach Activities of Maui was attempting to expand its business, there was an important hotel whose business he wanted, but a competitor had held the contract for over 15 years.

To maintain a competitive edge, Mike always reads the trade journals and keeps an ear open to what is happening in his business.

One day he read that this hotel was changing general managers, and the new general manager who would be coming in lived in Copper Mountain, Colorado.

This got Mike to thinking: Because it is so hard to get through all of the gatekeepers to secure a meeting with a general manager, maybe he should try to contact him before he actually moved to Hawaii.

Mike wrestled with what would be the best way to contact him. Should he write a letter? Should he call him on the phone? As he pondered these options, his friend Doug suggested, “Why don’t you just hop on a plane and go see him?”

Always one to take action and take it now, Mike quickly put together a proforma and a proposal and hopped on a plane the next night.

After flying all night, he arrived in Colorado, rented a car and drove the 2 hours out to Copper Mountain, and showed up unannounced at the new general manager’s office.

He explained who he was, congratulated him on his new promotion, told him that he looked forward to having him in Maui, and asked for a few moments to tell him about his company and what it could do for his hotel.

Mike didn’t get the contract during that first meeting, but the fact that a young kid was so confident in himself and his services that he would take a leap of faith to jump on a plane and fly all the way to Denver and drive out into the middle of Colorado on the off chance that he would be able to get together with him left such a huge impression on the general manager that when he did finally get to Hawaii.

Mike secured the contract, which, over the ensuing 15 years, has been worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mike’s bottom line.

That's all for now. I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to take action and overcome fear of failure. If you truly loved it please do not forget to share and comment your thoughts.

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Manish Yadav


My name is Manish Yadav and I’m the owner of the blog "Love Finds its Way". My advice does away with the manipulations and mind games recommended by magazines and the surface level advice of TV gurus… We’ll dive DEEP to you actionable steps you can use today. Over 900,000 men & women have transformed their lives, and I've been featured in Lifehack, Return of Kings, Menimprovement, Urban Dater, and so on...
...My only intention is to help you have all of achieve your dreams and desires and live a beautiful and prosperous life.
And we’re just getting started!

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