Fear of Failure - Definition and How to Overcome It

Last updated: May 22, 2023

What is fear of failure?

Fear of failure is an anxiety-inducing experience that can negatively impact our lives.

It arises when we perceive that not meeting expectations - either our own or those of others - will lead to disappointment and sometimes shame.

It can prevent us from taking risks, trying new things, and following our dreams.

Unfortunately, fear of failure can often be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, by changing our attitudes towards it, we can use fear of failure as a tool for growth and success.

Instead of seeing it as something to be scared of, view it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop resilience.

By acknowledging our fear of failure and using it as an impetus for action rather than as a barrier to progress, we can unlock our full potential.

How to overcome fear of failure?

Accept that failure is normal – everyone experiences it, and it’s part of learning and growing.

Try to look at a situation with a beginner’s mind – this can help you identify new options or paths forward.

Talk to other people about hat you're afraid of – they may have insight or ideas you hadn't considered.

Consider your options objectively to see if there are any positives or potential gains.

Remember that fear is often irrational – we cannot anticipate all outcomes so do not let yourself get stuck worrying.

At the end of the day, take action no matter what – the only way to truly overcome fear of failure is to do it anyway.

Lessons on overcoming fear of faulure

How to Overcome Fear of Failure | Jim Kwik

Jim Kwik, a brain coach, discusses how to overcome the fear of failure in his video titled "How to Overcome Fear of Failure".

Kwik believes that overthinking and analysis paralysis can cause individuals to never take the step towards their goals. This fear of making a mistake and concern for how others perceive them leads to a life filled with regret. Kwik encourages individuals to free themselves from the opinions and expectations of others and begin living towards their own dreams. He suggests the mental model of beginning with the end in mind and asks individuals to consider how they want to be remembered.

Kwik believes that mistakes are not failures but opportunities for growth and recommends individuals to follow the O.L.D. tool - own the mistake, learn from it and don't repeat it. He advises individuals to take steps towards their goals, even if it means falling and getting back up again. Ultimately, Kwik believes that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. 

If you're afraid to fail, WATCH THIS, by Mel Robbins

In this video coach Mel Robbins provides viewers with an inspirational message about the importance of overcoming the fear of failure.

She highlights examples of highly successful individuals who experienced initial setbacks and failures but persevered to achieve their goals. Failure is a natural part of the journey to success. Mel encourages viewers to embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

The video serves as a reminder to individuals who may be hesitant to take risks and pursue their dreams that failure is not something to be feared, but rather a stepping stone towards growth and success.

The Fear of Failure | Jordan Turner | TEDxAPSU

In her TEDx talk, Jordan Turner shares her personal experience with the fear of failure and how she overcame it.

She explains that her fear started in elementary school when she was bullied and constantly put down by her peers and even some of her teachers, which led to self-loathing and a belief that she would never be good enough.

Jordan then discovered that her fear of failure was rooted in comparing herself with others and feeling like she would never measure up.

However, she learned to ignore her inner critic, manifest positive thoughts, and compliment herself, which helped her become the best version of herself.

Jordan encourages others to do the same and not let the fear of failure consume them, because failures are actually learning experiences that lead to growth and success.

What causes fear of failure?

Fear of failure can often be traced back to early childhood experiences 

It is a very common issue among perfectionists, who operate under an excessive need for approval or recognition 

The fear of failure often originates from the individual's definition of what 'failure' means- it could mean anything from not achieving an unrealistic expectation to experiencing embarrassment in public 

The fear of failure can also be linked to low self esteem, which can lead to a lack of confidence in one's own abilities 

Often times, this fear can lead to anxiety and depression if not properly managed or addressed

Synonyms for fear of failure

Anxiety about not succeeding

trepidation of not succeeding

dread of not succeeding

apprehension about not succeeding

disquietabout not succeeding

perturbation about not succeeding

uneasiness about not succeeding

 Apprehension of not meeting expectations

Nervousness of not being good enough

Trepidation of not doing well

Hesitancy of not accomplishing goals

Words Related to Fear of Failure









Low confidence











Failure phobia




Anxiety attacks


Panic attacks











Imposter Syndrome






Low Self-Esteem


Feeling Unqualified