Recently I wrote a blog on failure. After sharing it with friends and receiving a few emails in response to the post, I realized I had struck a cord. I also realized that it was important to continue the conversation because the fear of failure seems to be at the heart of what keeps so many people from taking risks on behalf of their dreams.

So how do we overcome the fear of failure?

As one of my dearest friends pointed out, it’s important to look closely at your personal definition of failure and all of the negative connotations associated with the word itself. I couldn’t agree more!
In our culture and many cultures across the globe, failure is often associated with feelings of unworthiness, judgment, guilt, shame, and humiliation. More often than not these feelings stem for painful experiences in adolescence and can last an entire lifetime.

Think about it…

From grade school on, we’re taught to fear failure and avoid it whenever possible. This fear of failure is reinforced whenever we fail to fully comprehend a subject, fail to give a correct answer, fail a test, or fail to measure up in some way academically, athletically, physically, socially or otherwise. When we’re subjected to humiliation at the hands of our peers or worse- our educators, our fear of failure becomes magnified. Furthermore, if we don’t have the guidance and support we need from our family & loved ones, failure becomes synonymous with inadequacy and unworthiness. As a result we become less likely to take risks, as we grow older.

I know what it’s like to worry about what others will think and I know first hand what it’s like to let the fear of failure stop me from exploring my interests and keep me from doing what I love. For instance, in the third grade I took up playing the cello and while it was clear I wasn’t going to be the next
Yo-Yo Ma, I practiced every day and I loved to play. However, by the time I got to high school, I entered into a whole new arena of musicianship that reinforced the limiting belief that I wasn’t good enough to play alongside my fellow peers. By the time the second semester of my freshmen year rolled around, not only had I conceded to the idea that I wasn’t good enough, I gave up playing the cello entirely.

How many times has this happened to you? How many times have you given up on your interests or failed to take risks on behalf of your dreams because you didn’t think you were good enough or you were afraid of what others would think or say if you failed?

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary one of the definitions of, “Failure” is- “Falling Short”. What I love about this definition is falling short doesn’t mean that we won’t get better at our craft. Falling short doesn’t mean that we won’t succeed, or realize our dreams. In fact, falling short in and of itself gives us the opportunity to hone our skills, make refinements, improve upon our vision, learn, and grow.

So my question is, in what areas of your life have you fallen short and instead of seeing those setbacks as abject failures, can you see those setbacks as opportunities, to learn and grow?

With Love & Light,


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