Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fear of failure

When I was talking to a group of youngsters, I asked them whether they can walk fast on a long rectangular beam measuring two feet in width and forty feet in length lying on the ground. Every one of them said they could easily do that, while a few said they can even run. While I expressed my satisfaction at their response, I asked them how many would be able to do similar feat if the beam was raised to a height of twenty feet above the ground and fixed firmly on both ends. None responded. I asked them the reason for their silence. They said we may fall down. When I pointed out that it is the same beam that they had said they could run on except that the location is different. Someone replied that he was afraid and another said he was sure to fall down. Nothing had changed significantly. It is only the fear of failure that stood in the way of what they easily could accomplish earlier. While they were confident in the first situation, they lost their nerve in the second instance as they anticipated failure and its adverse consequences

The girl is taught by her mom the song for the competition that she had joined in the school. She had practiced it dozen times and sung confidently before her parents without any flaw. Yet when she stood before a large audience the usual confidence gave way to fear and she fumbled while singing. It is the fear of failure that wrecked her show.

Success or failure is more a mental game. We usually get what our mind and mental attitude indicates. That is if you believe you can, you can. If you believe you cannot, you cannot. The first requisite for success is self confidence. If you analyze the reason for people doing below their potential, you will observe that fear of failure is the main reason; I know a friend who can write brilliantly but she does not write as she fears her writing may not be good. She had judged herself through her warped vision. As a result of this diffidence people play safe and avoid situations where they could be tested. This is true in many fields be it in business, official career, education, sports or performing arts. By underestimating one’s ability to succeed, many miss wonderful opportunities to succeed. Reasonable risk taking consistent with one’s capability will alone enable people to realize their full potential. Absence of sheltered environment, presence of an alternate plan, adequate preparation and high self esteem are the insurance against failure.The stories of men who had accomplished daring feats or authored great success in any human field are those with high confidence in themselves backed by hard work.

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”. William Shakespeare


  1. I have got fear of failure and my husband is just against!

  2. Well Written and so apt. We fail due to the lack of self confidence, a big thank you to my mentor, i am gaining on the self confidence front.

  3. I always had fear while getting on a (step) escalator. Then it became fear that what will happen if I fall. It would be so embarrassing.
    Finally this time I made it clear to mysef that I have to overcome my fear rather than worry about 'what ifs' ANd now I don't have any fear
    Lovely post

  4. Your are right... :)
    Fear alone is the greatest impediment to success.

  5. We all have fears.... it comes in different forms, shapes, perceptions, beliefs, and more. The basic flaw common to all is ignorance. Ignorance of its cause, reason, source. We are often told to face our fears... because in facing it we get to know about it. Knowing or knowledge peels away its mystery.

    A very interesting post running true to actual life experiences. Keep writing.