Overcoming Fear of Failure – A Mindset Trick I Use Successfully

This post is a sweet and short rant.


I was feeling kind of moody lately and I convinced myself that I should try something different. Something I have never tried before and could introduce a new perspective in my life.


So, I decided to experiment with a complete new way of writing.


I put on my headphones, set a timer to 60 minutes and started typing.


My writing right now is freestyle and unintentional.


It is a subtle combination of flow and the thoughts that pop out while my fingers touch the keyboard.


I didn’t plan it, I didn’t research it and I didn’t organize it like I usually do.


The only thing I did was to pick a topic. A topic that really bothers me and that will allow me to experience a rich spectrum of emotions while I dissect it.


That topic is overcoming fear of failure.


Maybe the topic was the only intentional thing about this post.


The reason is quite self-evident: there is a great chance that I will fail dramatically while I work on it.


I have never tried something similar before, I already feel the writer’s block creeping in and I have already convinced myself that the result is going to suck.


But that’s ok.


There was no clear reason behind my decision to start writing today rather than to find a sweet escape. Or is there another reason? Who knows?


Stick around and you’ll see.


Back to our topic now. Failure.


I read in an article some months ago that 80% of people don’t want to start their own business because they are afraid of failure.


I couldn’t help but smirk while reading that number. The 80/20 rule revealed in all its glory once again, I thought.


At first glance, that fear seems reasonable. When you examine the statistics, you will find out that usually 9 out of 10 businesses fail.


That’s a big number and as a reasonable and rational person who wants to start a business you will probably think that since the chances of failure are so high, why risk it?


Can’t argue with that. I am a very reasonable guy myself. Reason is probably the most important parameter of my personal philosophy. One of my greatest ancestors, Aristotle, was a propagator of reason and as a proud Greek, I couldn’t help but respect his legacy by keeping on propagating it.


That said, however, I would like to ask you a question. An also reasonable one.


What is the opposite of failure?


Is it success?


Let’s say it is success.


What is success?


How would you go about defining it?


Don’t give me definitions, I don’t like definitions.


Give me examples, I like examples better.




Success is money. Success is sales. Success is power. Success is validation. Success is women. Success is growth. Success is abundance. Success is respect.


Ok, fair enough.


Now another question.


What’s beyond success?


What do you mean?


I mean, once you achieve all those things you just said, what happens next?


Hm. Nothing. You just live.


You just live…


Now, answer me another question.


What is failure?


As I said, don’t give me definitions, I don’t like definitions.


Give me examples, I like examples better.




Failure is lack of money. Failure is lack of sales. Failure is lack of power. Failure is lack of validation. Failure is lack of women. Failure is lack of growth. Failure is lack of abundance. Failure is lack of respect.


Ok, fair enough.


Now another question.


What’s beyond failure?


What do you mean?


I mean, once you fail in all those things you just said, what happens next?


Hm. Nothing. You just live.


You just live…


Yeah ok, your trick is nice but it’s not the same.


How is it not the same?


Your life beyond success and your life beyond failure is not the same. You might just live, but your life is different. When you have succeeded, your life feels great and when you have failed your life feels shit. It just feels different.


That’s the problem.


You are too emotional. I asked you a reasonable question and you turned my question into an emotional one.


But if you want to play this game, I can play it with you.


What happens if you succeed and then you fail? Are you still a success or are you a failure now?


Will your failure overshadow your success or is your success so big that will stay intact by your failure?


You don’t need to answer.


I am not here to judge.


I am here to evoke reason and put things in perspective.


The problem is not success and failure. The problem is their portrayal.


Success and failure are two sides of the same coin.


They are two sides of our own self that are trying to find balance in an unreasonably unstable world.


Failing doesn’t make you a failure and success doesn’t make you successful.


They are both arbitrary terms, fueling their meaning from the way they are portrayed.


So, do me a favor.


Next time you are about to do something and start thinking about failure, pause and ask yourself: What lies beyond failure?




Comment: It’s funny that this freestyle article turned into a mini conversation with myself. I tend to do that a lot when I am alone and it was subconsciously reflected in this post.


Share in the comments some of your own experiences dealing with the fear of failure and things you avoid doing because of it.


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Andrian Iliopoulos

I am the founder and main contributor at The Quintessential Man - The only online community that offers a holistic approach to self-growth. I am striving to create high-quality content by investing in a reality-based form of self-help, informed by a deep understanding of psychology, philosophy and my own personal experiences and social adventures.
  • NobodysStranger

    I checked your site earlier this morning, looking for a new article. Once this one was posted, of course I had to read it immediately. I like the writing style. It’s an interesting look into a more stream-of-consciousness style of writing.

    The concept of success and failure are often fraught with inaccuracies, especially in the form of thoughts that ‘Releasing a successful book’ or ‘Getting this promotion’ will make one happy. Reading philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius and Seneca makes it even more obvious that this is not the case. It’s long been proven that outside circumstances only have a small impact on one’s happiness.

    Real success, to me, is found in a combination of growth and flow. As long as I’m growing and gaining wisdom, then I’m successful. I have to push forward, stretch myself, but I also want to read, spend quality time with others, and meditate (those are in the ‘flow’ side of things).

    A lot of this is expanded in Neil Pasricha’s book ‘The Happiness Equation’. Definitely one worth checking out.

    Thanks for the great article!

  • Nathan Mueller

    I like that all you really did here was play some word games to make yourself feel better but honestly that’s really all that it is. Most hesitation or lack of action happens when we get caught up in thought loops or emotions without realizing that it’s all just in our heads. Sort of a thinking you’re the wave, not the ocean kind of thing. As someone who dropped out of college to build a business, just had it fail, and am already on to the next I can say that you are right. Nothing really happens in the mean time.

    I feel I should also mention that when you fail it can mean you lose thousands of dollars and a whole lot of time, so make sure that your enjoy the ride, make some friends, learn something new, have some crazy experiences, then when you do fail at least you’ll have a story to tell and something to help your kick-start the next venture.

    • Monetary loses should be a consideration only if you have a family. When you are young, you can do countless jobs to repay for those loses and you will eventually overcompensate when one of your endeavors succeeds.

  • Pingback: Failing Doesn’t Make You a Failure – Manosphere.org()

  • Loved the write up. I tend to do the exact same . Having a conversation with myself. And your right failure is only what we make of it.