It Isn’t Failure Itself That is Going to Stop You, It is Fear of Failure.

It isn’t failure that’s going to stop you, it is fear of failure.

Those who do not have a fear of failure don’t fail because they see “failure” as growth. Failure does not exist in their world. Failure only exists for those who fear it.

Fear of Failure

Fair of failure, also known as atychiphobia, is derived from the Greek word “atyches” meaning unfortunate.

This should already be ringing alarm bells. Not failure, but unfortunate!

Let’s look at an example, “Mum, I failed my exams” screams dead end to many people. Imagine if we worded that differently. “Mum, I was unfortunate in my exams…” – it’s as if that sentence wants to be carried on, “but I will do better next time”. Subtle and not a dead end but a solution.

This fear of failure is etched into us from our school days. We see education as the biggest stepping stone to our future successes, from a parents’ and education point of view.


The pressure to succeed can be crippling and it can get progressively worse each year. Success as top grades, success as getting into University, success as a well-paid corporate job, success as plenty of money, plenty of money because it gives us security.

Fair point right? It is completely understandable for our parents to push us to the best possible future to have a secure life. It’s also completely understandable for the education system to push for high performing students because that helps our economy and our standing on the global map.

But where do we encourage kids to try again? Where do we teach kids to have a growth mindset?

Here’s an example: you put your hand up in a classroom to answer a question and you get the question wrong. What does the teacher do next?…Moves on to the next person for the answer. Do we stop to give the first child a chance to figure it out? To learn.

Learning is hard, but it is precisely learning and not failing.

As we grow into adult life, we remind ourselves of what was etched into our brains from being a kid. Black and white,right or wrong, success or failure.

Now that we are an adult, we have so much more riding on us that we don’t have capacity for failure. We have a mortgage, we have kids, we have a partner to look after. All those things dependent on you. One failure can be detrimental to you and everyone else, right?

Possibly, but there are things we can do to either avoid that situation or overcome it completely. This is where mindset comes in.

Fixed Mindset Vs Growth Mindset

The fixed mindset is where people believe things are what they are and will not change. For example, someone is intelligent and I am not, therefore I never will be because that is who I am.

Someone with a fixed mindset also believes that talent brings success. For example, someone who has a “natural” ability to play guitar will, therefore, be more successful in their musical career.

A growth mindset, however, is when a person believes they can do anything if they put their mind to it through learning, practice and experience. They believe effort breeds success.

Studies have been carried out on the growth mindset by Dr Carol Dweck.

She found differences between pupils who had a performing goal and those who had a learning goal. Those who had performing goals, tend to be let down if they do not meet the performance. Whereas those who had learning goals will make the effort to seek challenging and interesting tasks so that they can learn.

Why does this matter?

As a parent or teacher, you have the ability to shape a child’s mindset for their future.

In order for the child to have the best possible chance of success it is vital to encourage a growth mindset so that in the future they are able to take on challenges and not be afraid of the outcomes because their goal is always to learn.

If you have a fear of failure, it is most likely derived from how your mindset has been shaped through childhood and young adulthood.

Carol Dweck also did a TED Talk, which you can watch below 🙂



So How Can We Start to Overcome This?

In Carol S. Dweck’s book, Mindset,  she recommends four steps in the journey towards a growth mindset.

Step 1:

Embrace your fixed mindset – we are all human and the chances of us always having some sort of fixed mindset within us is always possible. It’s learning to manage that so the sooner we can accept that it is there, the sooner we recognise and manage it in order for you to grow.

Step 2:

Beware of fixed mindset triggers – Be aware of how your fixed mindset talks to you. Is it disagreeing with you? Criticising you? Reminding you of the past? Being aware of this will allow you to observe how it talks in order for you to manage it.

Step 3:

Give your fixed mindset a persona name – By giving this mindset a persona name it will allow you to remind yourself that that’s not the person you want to be or become. This well then get you thinking of other options.

Step 4:

Educate it. Take the time to understand you persona’s view then “teach it a different way of thinking and take it with you on your journey to a growth mindset. Don’t try to make it disappear. Allow it to make a fuss and be like “ok, I get it but let’s just give it a go anyways, see what happens and what we can learn from it.”

This journey to a growth mindset takes daily work and effort.

Every day, take the time to set some goals. How can I learn and grow today that can help both myself and others? What plan will I put in place to carry this out? How will I act on this plan? And how do I continue my growth?

The Growth Mindset in Entrepreneurship

Embracing the growth mindset in entrepreneurship has multiple benefits which will spur you on your journey and open up many opportunities to learn and grow.

Learning from these misfortunes allows you to gather information that will stop you from making the same mistakes later. This is a sign of growth. This is also a reason why many entrepreneurs are able to write books on their journeys.

Passing on your knowledge and experiences to others is also allowing them to learn to. It will allow you to be a great teacher.

The learning mindset will keep you curious opening up more opportunities for you to embrace to help grow your business. Having this urgent want to learn will push you to take in as much information as you can through for example online learning, seminars, training days or even networking. All with the benefits of business growth as you implement these in your own business and find what works and what doesn’t.

A growth mindset will keep you inspired and push you to be a greater leader.

Being curious allows you to value the efforts and ideas of others and that everyone has something to offer. This attitude will allow you to create a culture in your business, as you grow, where other people also want to learn.

This open learning culture will lead to increased staff retention, morale, development, problem solving and ultimately a return on your investment.

Ultimately, you have the choice of which mindset you want to embrace. If you want to see growth in yourself and your business it’s time to reflect on yourself and decide what actions you want to take today.

Remember failure doesn’t exist, only learning.

Another highly recommended book that taps into these principles is The Chimp Paradox by Prof. Steve Peters. 

Written by Nicola Crawford.

Share with your friends

Join our mailing list/ exclusive mailing list for podcasts