Is Failure Better Than The Possibility Of Something More?

Sujit Kr
Failure & SuccessEtiAmmos/ istock

Successful people are those who are willing to take risks and try new things, even when they fail. But it’s not always easy to overcome your fears of success and put yourself out there, especially when you feel like you’re already at the top of your game.

For some, that fear might start even before you’ve begun, but if you use these tips to start overcoming your fears of success, you’ll be well on your way to living the life you want in no time!

There's no question as to whether you're fearful of success. The chances are high that you do indeed have some insecurities that have you doubting your ability to make it to the top. But success isn't all that difficult.

With a little work and perseverance, you can be at the top of your game. This article will take a look at how you can overcome your fears of success.

A short history of success

For most of history, people weren’t afraid to fail. In fact, failure was just a part of life. However, that all changed in 1899 when psychologist and philosopher William James published an essay called The Dilemma of Determinism.

He argued that failure is more comfortable than success for two reasons:-

  • If you try something and it doesn’t work out, at least you didn’t waste too much time or effort;
  • Your friends and family are more likely to give you sympathy for a failed attempt than they are praised for a successful one.

Fear of Failure vs Fear of Success

What's More Comforting? : The truth is, both failure and success are scary. What makes one so much more comfortable than the other? The answer lies in how you define success.

The key here is control. You can't control whether or not you'll fail at something, but you can control how and when you try it.

That's why people are more afraid of jumping out of a plane (one controlled action) than they are afraid of walking across a room (hundreds of possible actions).

It isn't about success or failure, but about what we feel like we have control over.

Why fear is such a problem?

Think about some of your biggest dreams and goals in life. Now, think about how you feel when you look at them. More than likely, you feel excited; your heart beats a little faster and you start thinking about how amazing it will be when you achieve them.

But then something happens—you hold yourself back; that excitement turns into fear, negativity, or frustration. There are so many excuses that keep us from achieving our dreams: we're not smart enough, rich enough, good-looking enough...fill in your own blank here!

Those voices might be all too familiar because they've been haunting us since we were children. The truth is we are programmed to fail before we even take our first step out into life. Why would our brains do such a thing?

Why would our brains do such a thing?

The evolutionary answer is that we're all hard-wired for paranoia. As humans, we've historically been a hyper-vigilant species. From an evolutionary perspective, our ancestors who noticed and sounded alarmed when danger was present were more likely to survive and pass on their genes.

Fearless individuals may have gotten killed and ended up with fewer offspring than fearful ones. So it makes sense that those ancient alarm systems are still in our brains today even though they might not be useful in modern-day society.

But it doesn't make sense for many anxiety sufferers: If your fears keep you from being successful, then evolutionarily speaking, why would you have them? Are these fears perhaps too deeply ingrained into us?

What exactly is fear of success?

Fear of success is actually a subset of a bigger psychological concept called Impostor Syndrome. In its most basic form, impostor syndrome refers to people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments.

Despite external evidence that they’re intelligent and capable, they feel like frauds and don’t believe they really deserve their success.

They constantly worry that others will find out that they don’t belong where they are in life.

The good news is that overcoming the fear of success is easy when you have a few simple tricks up your sleeve.

What exactly is fear of failure

Most of us carry some type of fear in our lives, but you may be surprised at how many people are controlled by their fear. The most common form is simply known as fear.

We’re afraid that we won’t succeed, afraid that we will look bad or out of place or embarrassed, and sometimes we even feel like there is something to lose when we try new things and take risks in life.

Fear can lead you down a path where you stay inside your comfort zone for so long that you never realize how much potential growth exists outside it.

Ten tips to overcoming your fears of success

Every one of us has at least one fear of success that we carry around with us, even though we know it’s hindering our ability to reach our full potential and live the life we want to live. What if we told you there were ways to overcome those fears?

In order to find out, here are ten tips that will help you work through your insecurities, limitations, and worries so you can get back on track and focus on becoming the person you were meant to be.

Step out of your comfort zone

The only way you’ll be able to achieve anything in life is by doing things that make you feel uncomfortable. It’s a fact.

Things like asking for a raise, starting your own business, or asking someone out on a date are all uncomfortable situations, but it’s those moments where we learn more about ourselves than at any other time in our lives.

Keep pushing yourself and accept that sometimes it won’t go according to plan - because if it did, we wouldn't grow as individuals or as businesses. By continuing to take risks every day, you can continue on your path towards success in whatever area you're trying to conquer!

Learn to handle criticism

It’s one thing to learn from your failures, but you can also gain a lot from your successes. You’re not going to like hearing it, but receiving feedback—good or bad—is incredibly valuable.

This is especially true when it comes from someone with more experience than you. It’s an opportunity for you and anyone else involved in the project (either as a team member or not) to look at what worked and how they can improve upon it next time around.

A little constructive criticism goes a long way toward helping everyone get better at what they do and moving forward toward success rather than failure.

Control the things you can control

If you focus on what you can control, like your work ethic and approach to your job, you will ultimately be satisfied. But if you spend time worrying about what may or may not happen, that stress can have a detrimental effect on your career.

I know that there are some things in life we simply can’t control: if a client decides to move their business elsewhere or an employee quits in anger, it’s out of your hands.

Instead of worrying about those uncontrollable factors, focus on what is within your power—and learn how much more effectively you perform when stress levels are low.

Set goals that force you out of your comfort zone

If you’re feeling scared, that means you’re on to something. Don’t be afraid: if you want a successful life and career, some level of discomfort is unavoidable. That doesn’t mean you have to live in fear—you just need to plan ahead.

If taking risks is new for you, take baby steps by setting up concrete goals that force you out of your comfort zone but aren’t too scary or overwhelming. For example, say yes when people invite you places and try new things even if they seem scary at first (or always).

These small actions will help reduce your fears over time, as well as prepare yourself for bigger challenges in the future. Don't live in fear.

Developmental toughness

Mental toughness is an essential element in achieving success. It's not simply a matter of fighting through failures or sticking to your goals, but having an I'll show you attitude and finding ways to take pride in your accomplishments.

Mentally tough people aren't defined by how many times they've fallen down; it's about how many times they get back up.

Mental toughness isn't something that can be completely taught or fully described—the best way to build it is by setting goals, letting yourself fail, and then picking yourself back up again.

Look up - don't just look ahead

It's easier for your brain to imagine that something bad might happen than it is for your brain to imagine that something great will happen.

You see, thinking about failure only activates a part of your brain called Broca's area. This is where you understand and use language, so all thoughts are verbal.

In order for thoughts not involving language - feelings and emotions - to activate Broca's area, they have to be strong enough to feel.

It's hard to picture how good you'll feel when you get what you want because we don't feel very strongly about our dreams yet; they're too far away.

Delegate what you don't have time for

I know how busy you are, so I'll do it for you. Delegate what you don't have time for; that way, you'll create more opportunities in your life.

It may sound funny, but delegation can free up so much time. Once you start delegating certain tasks, people will begin trusting you more and allowing you more responsibility--which will make them trust you even more.

If someone wants something done well, they usually want to do it themselves; however, if they can't do it themselves they will find someone who can help them achieve their goal.

Keep a journal

Instead of worrying about all you have to do or even obsessing over how much your insecurities will hold you back, keep a journal.

Write down everything from your fears and anxieties to what you’re proud of yourself for accomplishing. And if you’re unable to think of anything positive? Don’t beat yourself up about it—instead, use that space as an opportunity for self-improvement.

Recognize your faults and write down how you can overcome them. Focusing on what needs work, rather than what makes you uncomfortable, helps eliminate the fear many people experience when their dreams take flight.

Re-frame negative self-talk with positive mantras

When you’re struggling, it can be easy to fall back on negative self-talk. For example, you might get stuck on something and think I can’t do it or I don’t have what it takes. This type of thinking may not help you push through any fears.

Instead, consider using positive mantras—simple phrases that will keep your spirits up when things get rough. For example, when I was starting my fitness business, I told myself you got this! whenever my first steps into entrepreneurship felt a little overwhelming.

A couple of months later, I had built an online training program and coaching company from scratch—all without losing sight of my original vision for my business.

Get help if needed

Humans are social creatures, so it’s normal to experience discomfort at times when we’re faced with new situations or subject matters. But, while anxiety can be a natural reaction, taking control of your fears and avoiding them altogether is never a good idea.

If you need some help tackling your fear of success head-on, there are ways you can find more comfort. For instance, seek professional help from a therapist who specializes in fear and anxiety disorders.

Also, consider joining a support group where you can meet others who might be experiencing similar feelings; people tend to feel better around others who understand what they’re going through. Don’t let fear hold you back from becoming more successful—take action today!


Success shouldn't be scary! Failure might be the first step to achieving success, but it doesn't have to be the only step. It's not easy growing up and many people have a fear of success due to the attention they might get because of it. However, the more successful you are, the more comfortable you become in your life. I hope that our blog post has provided you with some insight into how you can overcome your fear of success. I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments.

Success is not a destination, it's a journey.

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I write about "Life Hacks" such as Ideas, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Writing, Self Improvement, Productivity, etc. & Help people to build the life of their dreams.


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