Flip the Fear of Failure

The Dictionary Definition of Failure:


  1. 1. lack of success. "an economic policy that is doomed to failure"

    synonyms:lack of success, nonfulfillmentdefeatcollapse, foundering More

  2. 2. the omission of expected or required action.

As a recovering perfectionist, this topic hits home. When I work with 1:1 clients, this is a consistent variable that frames plateaus, embarrassment, frustration, stress, anxiety, and feeling stuck. 

What does failure really mean to you? If failure's definition is lack of success, then what does your picture of success look like? Many of us see success as financially earning a specific amount to support a family, logistically achieving a goal or stepping up the career ladder, or winning 1st place in a race. These are tangible touchstones. Therefore if you don't make the planned amount, get the promotion, and get 3rd place in the marathon, are you a failure? In opposition, if you become a millionaire,  rise to CEO, or win a marathon, are you happy and content once you arrive? 

Our definition of failure has been forming since we were young. Every test at school, sporting event, audition, relationship, and milestone created stories that rewired us to think a particular way today. As we start to gain more experience in life, our definition begins to change as more stories are added to our memory-box. If you ask a high school student their idea of failure, many will speak to a college rejection letter, not making the basketball team, letting their parents down, or breaking up with their significant other. When you ask a parent their definition of failure, they will possibly speak to letting their family down, the fear of their child getting sick or hurt, divorce, or losing a job.

Circumstances individualize our opinion of failure, and we begin to act accordingly as we also fear suffering associated with failure. We as humans will do everything humanly possible to avoid the feelings of suffering because it tends to be scary, uncomfortable, and full of change. I can't tell you how many times I didn't do something that would further my growth because I was terrified of failure. 

Ok, so let's face it. We DO fail sometimes. We do not make our sales goals at work, say the wrong thing to a friend, fall out out of a yoga pose, or end relationships. But what happens AFTER the fall?

You have a choice. You can choose progress and growth, or backward movement and sadness. Progress is what keeps us motivated. When we get that first A on a test, recognition from a mentor, nail handstand for the first time, run a 5k, these are progressions and stepping stones toward something. 

Life usually goes on. Suffering exists. Allow yourself to redefine success so that you can live with the idea of failure.

Flip the Failure: You get together with your team and come up with a plan to achieve your goals. You have a challenging and uncomfortable conversation with your friends to make amends. You progress into a newer mindset and LEARN from your so-called failures. 

Often times, we are more scared of success than we are of failure. Success comes with growth, change, and responsibility.

So..take a leap! Work toward your goals and enjoy the view. See progress as your milestone and envision success in your own terms.  Maybe you take risks resulting in suffering and failure. Allow yourself the space to get back up, learn from it, and move on with affirmation and positivity. This shift in perspective will enhance your business to see results, increase the love in your relationships, create changes in your state and trust in the universe. 

Journaling Exercise:

  • Write down every fear of failure that may pertain to your work, health, finances, relationships, personal life. Acknowledge where these fears may come from. Are they truths or stories? 
  • What CAN you do to succeed..write it in an affirmation statement.
  • What lessons have you learned from your past failures? Where do they apply now?