Why Healthy Fear of Failure Makes You More Likely to Succeed?


The literature on business and entrepreneurship often deals with questions such as how to overcome the fear of failure. However, it is not stressed enough that the fear can actually be turned into a motivator for success.

I’m not talking about the unhealthy fear of failure that paralyzes, I’m talking about a dose of uncertainty that will keep you cautious and push you to do better. If you want to know how you can turn that fear to your advantage, keep reading and find out.


Creating Awareness

In most cases, people who don’t think about failure or don’t even see it as a possibility get completely demotivated when things don’t work out the way they panned and eventually they give up.

One of the common characteristics of those who failed was that they all once thought the failure to be impossible.

This is where the healthy fear of failure steps in and helps you out. This feeling shows that you are aware of the possibility that your business plan can go in a different direction than you hoped it will.

Being aware of the possibility of failure will help you to cope with all the obstacles and follow your ultimate goal.


Getting Creative

Believe it or not, but the fear that we might fail is more likely to stir the creativity pot.

That feeling of necessity can lead to some quality ideas.

David Ogilvy, a British advertising executive known for his emphasis on creative copy and campaign themes and a founder of the agency of Ogilvy & Mather once wrote: “The copywriter lives with fear. Will he have a big idea before Tuesday morning? Will the client buy it? Will it sell the product? I never sit down to write an advertisement without thinking this time I am going to fail.”

This definitely hasn’t made him stop. It made him push harder and do better.

Keep in mind that we are talking about a healthy dose of fear because if the insecurity is unbearable it will definitely make you unfit to go forward.


Better Preparation

Those who fear that they will not succeed will often dedicate more time and patience to prepare before they venture on a business risk.

Source: Pexels

Some people tend to think that after graduation their learning days are over. But they never really are if you want to excel. You can always learn a new language or enroll in a new course or a program in order to attain new skills and work on the existing ones.

John Mayer, a freelance writer for Stanford University says that before he engaged in professional writing or even showed his work to anyone, he read numerous blogs, works of other authors, reviews of top wrters, etc. He was afraid that his work would be rejected so he wanted to make sure that he learned as much as he can about his trait. John claims that the fear helped him to always give his best.

The fear can motivate you to perfect your skills and at the same time working on your skills will help you to minimize the fear.

Learning from Others

One of the things that makes successful people who they are is their willingness to always learn more.

Source: Unsplash

Take advantage of all available resources and inquire about actions which drove people in your field of business to failure.

If you fear not to end up like them, use them as an example of what NOT to do. The realization of potential failure can humble us and helps us to do better.

Some of the resources you can use are:

  • Blogs
  • Stories about successful companies (most of them confronted failure at some point)
  • Articles
  • Reviews on services in your field of business
  • Asking people in your field of business about their journey

Pay attention to the steps which people claim that led them in the wrong direction. The reviews from people on the services you are planning to offer will show you where experts in your field make mistakes so that you can avoid them.

To summarize, read, inquiry, learn, and implement.



Identifying and Confronting the Fear

Confronting your fear can help you to realize your weaknesses. The fear of failure usually comes from the subconsciousness which is telling us that we are not good enough. Even though you should be confident and focus on your strengths, use this fear to identify what you are struggling with.

A research conducted by Harward Business Review writers which consisted of interviewing 65 entrepreneurs in the UK and Canada, identified seven sources of fear:

  1. financial security
  2. ability to fund the venture
  3. personal ability/self-esteem
  4. the potential of the idea
  5. threats to social esteem
  6. the venture’s ability to execute
  7. opportunity costs


The research also found that worries concerning opportunity costs, personal financial security, or the ability to obtain funding for the venture are all positively associated with an entrepreneur’s persistence in pursuing their goals.

James Hayton and Gabriella Cacciotti from the Harward Business Review explain that if entrepreneurs contemplated the choice they had made in pursuing their venture, and how this necessitated missing out on other opportunities, whether in their professional or personal lives, they were more motivated to carry on with the venture.

That is the reason behind realizing what your fear is and embracing it.

Not to mention that by identifying what intimidates you and what you find to be your weak spots, you will be able to work on those issues.

Some Final Thoughts

To conclude, the fear of failure can make us strive for more and not get stuck in the comfort zone. It can help you to be aware of your weaknesses and to be cautious about the actions you make and the steps you take.

You should never let the fear stop you from taking risks but you should let it be your guide and help you to become the best version of yourself.

 Daniela McVicker is graduated from Durham University and has an MA in Psychological Science. Besides doing her work as an editor at Grabmyessay, Daniela has been applying her knowledge of psychology in order to help ambitious students to find their place in the world of business by sharing her experience with a broader audience.

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