Why the fear of failure should not hold you back when reaching for success

Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them. ~ Stacy London

An article worth delaying
I should have finished this article a month ago, but I had other priorities. A few people I know were either ill or being operated on, so I spent most of the time checking on them and trying to be present if possible. One person was in a pretty bad condition due to a disease, cancer. As I’m writing this article, I’m sad and also happy that person who battled cancer is no more. Sometimes death is the only way out when dealing with such diseases. This shows us again how short and precious life is and how it can turn around and end. So why not live a life that matters and live fearlessly. I dedicate this article to this person who lost his life battling cancer. The way you enjoyed life and the way you dealt with this disease gave me a lot of strength and courage to finish this article. This one is for you Raoul, always in the heart.

The different types of fear
Since I started writing I have written some short phrases on fear. “Fear not (Don’t be afraid)” is one of the most repeated phrases in the Bible (I’m not a Christian, but I have an open mind) and yet fear is something that distorts our lives daily. For some of us the fear of failure is greater than the fruit of success. There are many types of fear: the fear of death (also known as the mother of all fears), the fear of illness, the fear of losing beauty, the fear of losing all possessions, the fear of unemployment, the fear of people out there to hurt us, the fear of failure, etc. The focus in this article will be on the fear of failure.

The birth of this article
In mid-November my best friend, Karan Gokoel, and I gave a motivational speech at VWO/HAVO Kwatta for students who are in their final year. Karan, who is a psychologist, started the session on how to deal with the fear of failure. Sooner or later we all deal with this fear, that’s why I asked him to share this information with a broader audience. I will cite the words of Karan……

What is fear of failure?
Fear of failure is the fear to fail and can occur in different situations, which can differ from person to person. Take giving a presentation as an example. Most of the time we fear that everything will go wrong, that we did not live up to the expectation of the audience and let them down and eventually ourselves. There is a difference in positive and negative fear of failure. Positive fear of failure enables us to use that fear in our favor by getting the job done and does not have the kind of tension that negative fear of failure has. Negative fear of failure however can lead to undesirable results, because of the excess of fear, nervousness, lack of focus, peer pressure, self-image, etc.

What can we do against the fear of failure?
Fear of failure is much more common in insecure people (am I good enough to do it?). There are a lot of people who worry about what others in their environment might think.
First of all it is important to overcome uncertainty, simply said: to know your worth. Everyone is unique and every chance you get is unique. It does not mean that failing once will lead to fail every time. Sometimes we can do everything and still fail. This can make us feel uncertain and make us feel that we are not good enough especially when others succeeded. Walking around with these thoughts may have an impact on everything you do. It is said, what you think you become.

Three simple solutions when experiencing fear of failure

  • If someone else can do it, I can do it too. And if no one else did it before, I will be the first one!
  • If I fail this time, I will have another chance.
  • If I’m not good enough on a certain subject, I may need to spend more time than others do to understand it or ask someone who is better on this subject. You don’t have a mental problem, it’s just a practical issue. We all go through this phase sometime.

Fear of failure also occurs in different situations and populations. If you’re afraid to fail, ask yourself the following question: what’s the worst that could happen if you fail? Take that answer and ask yourself if it’s worth being fearful. Being fearful causes panic and negative thoughts and a lot of stress on your body and mind. That stress can dis-balance your whole system and you might even get sick, depressed or both. The fear of failure only causes more harm than failure itself. Negative self-talk and negative thoughts only limit your capacity which will only bring you down and keep you there. Because the focus is on these negative thoughts, it can blind you for all the success you can achieve. Control your thoughts and remember:

  1. Don’t focus on what you don’t have, but focus on what you have (your skills, knowledge).
  2. Use what you do have and make the best of it.
  3. Achieve the results.


The floor is yours
Fear is natural, but excessive fear can hold us back from reaching higher heights. The sooner we are aware of this, the sooner we can take control. You might experience the fear of failure and it’s totally normal, as long as it does not control you. This fear limits our thinking and stresses our body to a limit that we can get sick or depressed. Even if you fail, it’s not the end. You can see it as a new beginning and it can also mean that you get to know yourself better, so take life as it is. Other simple ways to deal with the fear of failure is by finding empowerment in praying, service, education or meditation. And if you still don’t know how to deal with fear just say it out loud, there might be someone who hears you and has a solution for you or just shoot me a message. I won’t promise you a solution, but I can promise you a listening ear. In the past I had also dealt with the fear of failure, until I asked myself: “Why should I be afraid to fail, when I know that I’m giving it my all and I’m not doing wrong?”. This helped me a lot since then. I can say that I live my life fearlessly, just like my friend Raoul did. At the end of the road I can say to myself that I did everything that I wanted and have no regret of not trying, the question is do you?

Have faith in yourself that you are able to handle everything, because you have resources within us and friends around us and that will see us through ~ Harold S. Kushner

Be proud, you’re stronger than you know,
Vishant Poeran

I like to know what’s going through you mind, leave me a comment if possible.

Thanks to:

  • Karan for supporting me with the speech and helping me write on this topic
  • My other best friend, Simon Noerdjan, for giving me his best advices as always and everyone else who supported me along the way.
  • And finally, Shanillia for screening my article and tweaking it.

Inspired by the book “Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World” (Harold S. Kushner).


1 comment

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