Want to Conquer the Fear of Failure? Define it Differently! | Personal Success | Success tips and life stories from Adam Khoo, Asia's top success coach.

Want to Conquer the Fear of Failure? Define it Differently!

After training and coaching over 500,000 people in 7 countries, I have found that the most common factor that stops people from daring to dream, making the necessary commitments and taking action is the fear they have of failure.

Whenever I inspire people to go for their dreams, their minds are immediately programmed to focus on the idea, ‘But…what if I fail?’ The fear that follows distinguishes whatever inspiration and motivation they had inside. I always like to ask people this question instead, ‘What if you succeed?’

If you have the fear of failure, you are not alone. Everyone fears failure, from Presidents to athletes. From entrepreneurs to students. I can tell you that after delivering countless of seminars around the world to so many people, I still feel the fear before I go on stage. One of my mentors once told me that the day I have no more fear, is the day I no longer care or the day I am dead.

There is nothing wrong with having fear. Fear is an emotional response given to us by our creator for a specific purpose. When you learn to use it, fear heightens your senses, increases your focus and drives you to become even better prepared.

For example, the fear of not being able to deliver my very best to my students drives me to prepare and rehearse my seminars until it becomes excellent. Fear drives me to continuously get feedback and innovate to improve my programs even more each time.

What you must ensure is to never let fear paralyze you and stop you from taking action. That was never the intention of fear. Fear was never meant to limit us but to serve us.

From my experience and observation, the most successful people in the world fear failure as much as anyone else. So, how come they dare to dream big and take action to make their dreams happen. The reason is because they DEFINE failure very differently from the majority.

Many people define failure as NOT achieving their goals. They believe that if they set a goal and do not get there the first time, it means they have FAILED. The fact is that in life, we never ever achieve our goals the first time we go for it (I never have as well). So, if you define failure this way, then you are going to experience failure all the time. If you define failure this way, then you will never dare to set any kind of goal or to take any action. You have completely sabotaged yourself.

Successful people, on the other hand, DEFINE failure differently. They believe that when they set a goal and don’t reach it, they have NOT failed. They have gotten a LEARNING EXPERIENCE and are even closer to success. THey believe that they only fail when they give up. As long as they don’t quit and keep learning and moving forward, they have not failed yet!

Successful people also believe that the greatest failure in life is the failure to participate in life. Not even ‘trying’ is the greatest failure of all. If you don’t even give something a shot, that’s the ultimate failure. At least when you take action, you give yourself the opportunity to succeed or to learn something from it. Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all time said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

Here is a quote from J.K Rowling (author of Harry Potter) that I love.

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing in something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have never lived at all. In which case, you failed by default.”

Here is also a quote from Aung San Suu Kyi, The opposition leader from Myanmar that has taught me to never allow fear to hold me prisoner and to have the courage to follow my dreams. In 1990, Aung San’s democratic party won a landslide victory in the Burmese Nation but she was arrested by the ruling Junta and imprisoned for the last 14 years.

Although she could have been released if she decided to give up her political ambition to bring democracy to her country, she has chosen to remain in a physical prison believing that the only real prison is fear. That has long as she has no fear, she has ultimate freedom.

” The Only Real Prison is Fear and the Only Real Freedom is the Freedom from Fear”


19 Comments so far

  1. Investor Investment on August 12th, 2010

    most of us think that one failure makes us losers forever. Make sense why we fear of failure. Solution: we must experience one failure to know that failure is nothing.

  2. Goh on August 21st, 2010

    Failure isn’t an option, it is a must that anyone must face in order to strengthen our inner core so that we can achieve higher successes in our lives to come.

  3. Charlie M. Sianipar on August 27th, 2010

    Thanks Adam, I always remember, as you told us. Fear will make me more focus. Focus to get succeed and find out the strategy to get there, not to the failure it self.

  4. faisal on August 27th, 2010

    Only fear is the fear of God
    That takes all other fears away from us and gives us light to lean on

  5. Anto on August 27th, 2010

    We should have more believe in our action than fear.

  6. ademola fabunmi on August 27th, 2010

    The opposite of fear is faith, so lets have faith in God.

  7. Tim Teo on August 27th, 2010

    Fear is good to give us more clear direction, decision and trust God if you believe in Him ! We should treat fear as the nature of human being and give us insight to move forward !!!

  8. kathy on August 27th, 2010

    when we are on fast motion and keep on moving there is no time for fear. Our adrenaline will support us. It is when we slow down our little voice starts coming from all directions and if our inner self not strong enough will we succumb to fear.

  9. baby on August 27th, 2010

    once we hv overcome the feeling of FEAR…success is waitng for us…

  10. TAWFIK on August 28th, 2010

    Hi thank you for sharing can you please tell me how to break out of procrastination

  11. annie on August 28th, 2010

    Hi Adam,

    Every time after reading your post, my energy level gets higher and higher. I feel good and more focus in all direction. Thank you for sharing. God bless you!

  12. […] this negative emotion to be successful. Adam Khoo explains the mental calibration effectively in his blog post here. Key elements involved in the mental calibration include: Many people define failure as NOT […]

  13. RAJEEV on September 1st, 2010

    Thank you for valuable and motivational sharing. Of-course one should always take further action, without any FEAR.

  14. Nsimire Robert on September 8th, 2010

    Thank you so much for the benevolent, inspirational, and emotionally transforming publications. Well, before reading this particular one, i wasn’t aware about fear as being a terrible control factor in one’s dreams of success and general performance. At least now am sensitized about the merits and demerits of fear.

  15. […] this negative emotion to be successful. Adam Khoo explains the mental calibration effectively in his blog post here. Key elements involved in the mental calibration include: Many people define failure as NOT […]

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  17. tears garaneunga on November 29th, 2011

    the cacoon of fear is very fragile,it needs a little attempt at flapping your immobilised wings and it will shatter into a million pieces,only then will you be able to discover that you can fly to dizzy heights. Flap your wings and let fear be sahttered.

  18. Jacob Martin on June 12th, 2012

    Good sharing such great details by us in fact appreciate every thing that you’ve done here with am glad to know that you really care about the earth that we live in.

  19. Danang on July 25th, 2013

    i have simple dream but it a great dreams, thanks for sharing adam you can make me on fire

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