The fear of failure – this is my second article from “On the road to success”.

First article Fear: The wild horse that will make you win the race.

Last year, I participated in a public speaking training course. Organisers selected a few random speakers to come forward and talk. The goal was to pick a random quote in a basket, read it to everyone and talk about it for 3 minutes. I did not feel good about this… I felt I was going to fail miserably. This fear pushed me to be more creative. When I was called to speak, I picked a paper and as opposed to reading it, I voiced a quote that I knew and could talk about. I was not prepared to fail. The 3 minutes of speaking went well.

The fear of failure 

This short story tells us three things:

1) Failure was to be avoided at all costs

2) Fear won

3) I did not experience what I came for.

Out of my sight

Here are a few effects of perceived failure: It paralyzes you, demotivates you, makes you believe you are helpless, fundamentally distorts your perceptions of your own abilities and limits your success potential. The fear of failure often leads to unconscious self-sabotage, performance anxiety and stops you from achieving what you want.

Why then would we want to experience this? This is exactly what happened to me with the public speaking training.

Failure, who are you?

Here is the definition : “lack of success in doing something” Failure exists as an opposite of success, it actually does not have its own existence or meaning. Failure exist because there is an expectation. How can you fail when there is no expectation? Failure can destroy you or build you: it’s your perception that dictates the path you take. When you believe failure is negative, you invite Fear as well. Fear + Failure is the most powerful combo to stop developing yourself. Failure is a ghost and a great teacher. Two faces, which one do you pick?

“You don’t fail because you aim too high and miss, you fail because you aim to low and hit”  Les brown

Change of perception

When they learn how to walk, babies fall, they fall again and again and again – hundreds of times. And then they walk, and then they run. So what makes babies run while adults want to avoid falling at all costs?

Our cultural perception of failure is simply distorted. We live in a society that has bullied Failure, making it unworthy in our eyes. Here is the new definition of Failure: “Failure is a critical & necessary step in achieving what you want”

Maybe babies are simply giving their full attention to that first step without thinking about running?

What if the answer is to stay in the present moment and not overthink about the future? Exclusively improve who you are, leaving expectations on the side.

Higher Performers and Failure

High Performers embrace the above new definition of Failure. Failure is their best ally to develop themselves.

In my public speaking example, I had the choice to grow and pay with a temporary discomfort – or avoid the pain. I selected the comfort. You may wonder: Did he really want to become a speaker? That is a good question!

When you want something really bad, you partner with failure.

You learn to embrace it, live with it, play with it.

The temporary discomfort is nothing compared to achieving what you want. We learn from failure not from success – Failure is an investment you make to buy success – nothing more.


In my next article:

Do you remember your first jump into a pool or the sea from a considerable height?

Should I jump or not? I may hit a rock, I may injure myself, or even die.

How do you find the courage to jump? How do you build the mental strength to do what scares you? How do you build a deep self-confidence to push you where your mind doesn’t want you to go?

This will be covered in my next On the road to success article

Alex Kergall supports his clients to raise their game. They are Elite Athletes, Executives and Emerging Leaders. What do they all have in common? A deep desire to grow.


Read more blogs from Alex Kergall – 7 habits to build deep self-confidence