Fear of Failure Holding You Back?

fear of failureFear of failure can be one possible reason for failure in business. Although only 2 to 5 percent of Americans actually suffer from true ‘fear of failure’, called Atychiphobia, this doesn’t stop some people from experiencing it in some situations. Fear of failure isn’t actually a fear of failure per se – it is actually a fear of shame. The mental and emotional pain that can be caused from being embarrassed, or not feeling ‘good enough’ can be quite intense. Some people may consider the lack of success less painful then the feelings they suffer when they fail, or believe they have failed.

Some times we don’t even notice, but we may find unconscious ways to avoid a potential failure. Even though that potential failure is likely unfounded. For example I may spend the day rearranging my office space unnecessarily, instead of researching a new topic to write about, just so I can use the excuse “I just didn’t have time to get started.” Subconsciously I know that if I never start writing, I will never have to experience the failure of writing something people won’t like, so I get busy doing something else ‘important’ instead.

If you feel you may be sabotaging yourself in this way, one thing you can do is talk about it. Find someone that you trust, someone who knows you and you know won’t judge you. Sometimes it is enough to just hear yourself describe how your feeling to realize that your fears are irrational. The empathy and reassurance of a trusted friend can strengthen your feelings of self-worth and competence.

Something else you can do is break it down. Try to focus on the aspects of your task that are completely in your control and accomplish them first. This will give you confidence as you see some results, and get you closer to completion. After that, take the more challenging parts and try to brainstorm alternate ways to look at them. Framing difficult tasks in a different light might open up new ways to tackle them.

“Fear of failure is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb


How many times have you put off doing something for fear of failure? How did you break through and finally accomplish what you needed to do? Or maybe you didn’t? Share your experiences below, you might just help someone else cope with their fears.


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