How to Overcome the Fear of Failure


I launched FinanceSuperhero in April 2016 to help others save money, get out of debt, earn more money, and live the best life possible. Send me an e-mail or a comment if I can help you in your journey. Thanks for reading!

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31 Responses

  1. “Perhaps he does not fear failure because he hasn’t yet been programmed to expect it.” – Wow – is that a great line and so true! That was an amazing story! For all those who are “down” on our youth, there are some amazing kids out there!
    I think I struggle most with this -“We fear what others may think of us if we fail.” I agree with you and have finally decided that I don’t need to really worry what others think. It took a long while to get there though! We may need to stick together on that one!
    Great post!

  2. amber tree says:

    Fear is a strange things. It makes that we prefer not to change, unless where we are now puts us in great great danger.
    Being aware about our financial state and the possibilities there are, makes me a little less fearful. We dare to invest, change jobs,…

    The Taylor story is really amazing. Rejecting a 30 Mio offer… That takes courage to do so!

    • Hero says:

      Like GS said, I still think Rosenthal’s decision is nuts. On the other hand, I wish I had even half of his courage and bravado.

  3. Great post and tips on how to overcome fear. Important to not have a life paralyzed by fear. Can’t believe he turned down $30 million though! On the face of it that sounds borderline insane.

    • Hero says:

      As I was reading the article about Rosenthal for the first time, I did a double take when I read about the $30 million dollar offer. Though he might not be the greatest at math, the kid has guts!

  4. MMD says:

    John C Maxwell has some great ones, doesn’t he? Along the same lines, there’s a quote I once read from Peter Drucker that went something along the lines of “entrepreneurs aren’t great risk takers, they are actually great risk calculators”. To me, I interpreted this as greatly increasing your chances for success by knowing what you’re getting into instead of just blindly following your ambitions.

    • Hero says:

      I aim to read a new John Maxwell book every quarter, MMD; like you said, he has put out some excellent books over the years.

      Risk is a fascinating phenomenon. I’m currently reading a great book, “Dollar Logic,” which analyzes the true nature of risk in personal finance and investing. I already feel that I am becoming a better risk calculator.

  5. At work I often hear the phrase ‘fail fast’. Not surprisingly, failure at work is not a bad thing – it’s expected. And when new employees realize this, they suddenly have new confidence, which leads to more success, and a better business.

    Lingering in failure when something is obviously not working is bad. Not realizing why you failed and making the same mistake over and over is not OK.

    I’m taking this same approach with my side hustles and blog. No pressure means I’m having a good time. Eventually I think success will come, whatever that means, but in the meantime I fully expect to fail multiple times.

    • Hero says:

      Ty, it sounds like your company has crafted an enviable culture for your team. I am puzzled when I hear friends speak about the toxic cultures of fear and pressure in their workplaces; more and more, I am learning that leadership sets the stage for culture.

      I have no doubt you will experience great success with your blog. Your openness and careful analysis in your writing will help you continue to draw new readers.

  6. We are designed to fail. Failure isn’t the problem, just how we react to it. I don’t enjoy failure, but there is simply no better learning tool. Hopefully we can learn while watching others fail but it simply doesn’t hit home like our own failures.

  7. Mrs Groovy says:

    There’s a saying about how we obsess about how others judge our failures. But meanwhile those others we worry about hardly notice us. Therefore they make no judgements because we don’t matter to them. At first this seems like a cold idea. But I find it comforting.

    • Hero says:

      It does seem rather cold, but I think it is very accurate, Mrs. Groovy. We tend to believe that we are the center of the universe and fail to account for the fact that others are just as self-absorbed as we are. Thanks for sharing this great connection!

  8. Mrs. Superhero says:

    You know what scares me more than failure? Not trying. There are a lot of things I was set up to fail but overcame by perseverance, hard work, and a lot of help from the guy upstairs.

  9. ZJ Thorne says:

    I am a proud dilettante in many areas of my life. Once I stopped being a perfectionist, I was more willing to try things. I don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it and to profit from it. This pivot has made an enormous difference in my happiness and ventures. I’ve also learned so much from failures. I always force myself to take time between relationships because I like to examine what choices I made that did not serve me well. It was hard to take the time before asking out my current girlfriend, but I’m glad I did. She got a much healthier me as a result.

    • Hero says:

      From one perfectionist to another, I understand how crippling it can be at times. I am learning to be more introspective and simultaneously accept that I will fail often.

  10. I use the same strategy for getting over failure that I do for dealing with success. I don’t let either one dictate my emotions. I try to stay calm no matter what the outcome.

    When I first started a business years ago, I would get real excited when things would go well. And I would get real depressed when things would go badly. That up and down was too much to deal with.

    Instead, I learned to stay focused on my goals and the process of moving forward.

  11. The worst thing you can do in life is not try. We all fear failure but you get nothing out of life if you take no risk. I had a fear of starting a blog and what others would think of it but I am glad I overcame that fear and just went with it.

  12. This reminds me of the great quote by Ira Glass, the “Nobody tells beginners this…at first there is a gap between your taste and your skill. Your taste is what keeps you going”

    I’m definitely guilty of being afraid to invest. Several months back, I finally got around to setting up a Roth IRA and examining my 401k more.

  13. The fear of investing is a real problem, a lot of people read and learn but are scared to take action rendering the knowledge close to useless

    Fear still prevents me from taking risks, I am working slowly to overcome it and starting a blog has taken a lot of the fear away already

  14. Thank you! I’ve always hated that quote. Perhaps it’s just because we’re in special circumstances (both my husband and myself have multiple chronic health conditions). So the assumption that we couldn’t fail is just… implausible. We have so many extra obstacles to overcome. Including depression, which makes the fear of failure paralyzing at times. Trying to pretend it doesn’t exist is inconceivable to me.

    I agree that the key to trying is accepting that failure is an option — it’s just something that you’ll use to learn how to do better next time. It’s something you have to look at as a way to build to success rather than proof that you shouldn’t try again.

  15. I personally think its necessary to fail in order to succeed. Its not easy to be succesful on your first attempt at anything. Failing is just part of life and I know I wouldnt be where I am today if it wasnt for all my failures.

    I embrace failure!

  16. These are all great points! Sometimes I’m good at overcoming the fear…sometimes not. Lol. I think it just depends on how much you want something, and just going for it!

  17. Failure is good in all parts of life, investing yes. Money in general. You can even apply it to relationships, if your first girlfriend doesn’t work out, you can take the lessons learned from that into future relationships.

    I try to think very logically about our goals. I know that if we keep saving and investing, we will reach our FI goal.

    If we keep writing good content on our blog that’s worth following, people will continue to read it and be engaged.

    If we keep being healthy we will lose weight and have good bodies.

    Those types of goals just have setbacks, we will get there eventually.


    • Hero says:

      As always, excellent thoughts, Tristan. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

  18. Ray Ray says:

    Half the battle is starting! Being fearful of the unknown is normal especially if you are comfortable in your current situation.
    I know when I changed jobs from what I was doing for 9 years on good money to a part-time job with hopes of being successful it was scary! I had one kid and another on the way!
    Sometimes you have to take a chance and for me it paid off. I was fearful but knew I had to make a change to make me happy.
    I look back now a realize that if it all did go pear shape I could have either kept plugging away or found another job…. no big deal. 😉

    • Hero says:

      Thanks for sharing your personal experiences, Ray Ray. I can completely understand the reasons for your fear in that situation. I’m glad it didn’t move you into a state of inaction!

  19. Staci Staci says:

    I keep telling myself this, I was afraid to start my blog but now I’m going for it! Sent ya a msg-wanted to let you know!

  20. Pamela says:

    Fear can definetly paralyze you from taking action. Perseverance comes from taking action in the presence of fear. I think we all struggle with fear of failure as you outlined in this post. In my life, I find facing fear builds my ‘internal muscles’ so when similar adverisities occur, we are less fearful of them and more willing to ‘advance’.
    Good post.

    • Hero says:

      Wow, I think you just explained the crux of the issue far better than I did in my post, Pamela. Perseverance DOES come from taking action in the presence of fear. I sometimes have difficulty being bold and taking that first step, but you are absolutely correct – it helps us to build strength.

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