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Fear of Failure

Fear of Failure can poison our efforts and create unneeded distractions and stress in our heads. At the start of every coaching session, we do an exercise called a W.I.F.L.E, which stands for What I Feel Like Expressing.  It’s a great way to clear your mind of distractions and head trash and get yourself into a state of readiness for learning.  Recently, some of our clients who are in rapid growth and change mode commented that “things seem to be going well”.  Of course, I couldn’t let that go so when they finished, I just had to ask what exactly that meant.

What I heard from each of them was basically the same thing – things ARE going well, the changes ARE working, they are simply afraid it won’t stick because in the past changes and improvements didn’t stick.  Not wanting to say the wrong thing, I did what every great coach does, I simply sat there and looked at them curiously, and let them think about what they had just said.  Every one of them filled the awkward silence with the same thing – I’m probably going to be the reason things don’t work if I keep thinking that way, aren’t I?  Yes, yes you are.

So how do we overcome this completely natural feeling/fear?  Well, my coach and international speaker Traci Duez taught me that when feelings and emotions get in the way of our actions (and therefore our results), we need to take a step back and examine the THOUGHT that preceded the emotion/feeling, and find a new/better one.

When we are making changes in our lives and businesses, it is quite natural to have some doubt, especially if we have tried the change before and failed.  The reality is that when we are stepping out of our comfort zone, our brains expend quite a bit of energy trying to get us back to our comfort zone, unless we tell it to do something else for us.  So let’s look at this specific example of a situation where fear of back-sliding takes hold.  How do we avoid the “what if” thinking that sabotages so many of our efforts?

The answer is really actually very simple – don’t fear that it won’t work out exactly like you wanted, be confident that it won’t!  The simple truth is that most changes we implement in our lives or businesses often don’t go exactly as planned on the first try, or last as long as we thought they would.  That’s ok – we just need to acknowledge the likelihood and plan for how we will know when something stops working as well as we want, and plan for a prompt response.  When we roll out changes, we need to pay close attention to the results and be prepared to pivot/adapt based on actual results.  Instead of fearing failure, plan for the need to learn and adapt, to test and measure, so we get to the final solution more quickly and with less stress.

If you’d like help implementing systems in a new, more efficient way, let us help you by scheduling a free 60 minute Strategy Session with one of our coaches.  You can find a coach at

Author: Mark McNulty, Business Coach in Louisville, KY

Fear of Failure