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How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Failure


Is there anything more useless than fear of failure? It’s vestigial, like the tailbone or the appendix. And yet, humans seem to have an ingrained discomfort with the idea that their efforts won’t succeed 100 percent of the time. Here’s why you should keep fighting against your nature.


(Photo Credit: SuperFantastic/Flickr)

1. It’s inevitable.

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Nobody’s perfect. In fact, the lucky people are the ones who fail early and often, setting the stage for recovering from missteps and learning from their mistakes. Pity the folks who start off at a high point, only to absorb life’s blows later.

2. Fear of failure kills inspiration.

“Fretting about a letdown is likely getting in the way of your powerful, visionary thinking,” writes Adam Fridman at Inc. “If you can set aside the worry about not getting it right, you can concentrate on finding and acting on inspiration. That’s essential because empires were not built on worry of loss — they have always been built on vision and inspiration. No matter the size of the failure you may experience, it will not compare in any way to blocking your inspiration.”

3. Behind every mogul, scientist, inventor, and artist lies a string of failures.

What do Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney have in common? All failed, often spectacularly, before they succeeded. In fact, the same original thinking, perseverance, and faith in themselves that ultimately helps super-successful people make their mark often fuels their initial misfires.

4. Failure is a breeding ground for empathy.

Picture a world in which some people’s plans worked out the way they hoped, every time. It would not be a nice place to live. Failure gives us an opportunity to develop perspective, which in turn allows us to give one another a break now and then. Without the ability to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, we’d never be able to collaborate successfully.

5. Sometimes, success springs directly from failure.

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, once said:

“Most success springs from an obstacle or failure. I became a cartoonist largely because I failed in my goal of becoming a successful executive.”

Embrace obstacles, setbacks, even outright failure. Later, you might look back and realize that you were taking your first steps toward success.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you cope with fear of failure? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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