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Overcome Your Fear of Failure by Redefining It (HBR)

The fear of failing at something — of doing it wrong, looking foolish, or not meeting expectations — can be paralyzing. But avoiding challenges that make you anxious isn’t going to help you grow. To overcome your fear of failure, redefine what the concept means to you. For example, instead of thinking about failure (or success) in terms of what you achieve, reframe it in terms of what you learn. No one gets everything right, and a “failure” can still provide invaluable experience for the future.

It’s also important to focus on what you want to do rather than what you want to avoid. When you’re dreading a tough task, you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen.

Practical tips:

Ask yourself the question ‘what is the risk of not doing the task’ … ‘what is the risk of that risk’. Understanding the impact of not doing the task can motivate you in doing anyway.

Creating a “fear list”: Write down the challenge’s worst-case scenario, how you can prevent it, and how you’ll respond if it comes true. Creating a plan for a bad outcome can give you the courage to move forward.

Read more in the article “How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure,” by Susan Peppercorn


Watch the Ted Talk by Tim Ferriss, he shares how ‘Creating a Fear List’ enabled him to tackle some of his hardest challenges, resulting in some of his biggest successes.

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