How to Not Fear Failure

- | 83 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Life & Inspiration


I wonder if you heard Ed Harris say the famous phrase in the movie Apollo 13 – “Failure is not an option.” What did he mean by saying that phrase? Do you think he wanted to convey to his crew how to not fear failure, and find ways to succeed with the mission?

What do you see failure as? Do you know how to not fear failure? Do you feel it is alright to fail? As parents, are you alright if your kids fail in school? Should you be alright if you fail at your job or career?

It’s alright because the more you fail the more you learn, and better you become. Haven’t you heard of the phrase – “Failure is the path to success”? But then, why do you feel sorry or depressed if you fail?

Generally, people think and feel sorry for their failures and make their lives burdensome or painful. They are unable to think either positively or feel contended with their successful activities. They are needlessly ridden with shame and guilt.

The key to convert failure into success lies in your attitude. You need to think positively about your failures by learning how to not fear failure.

Every failure should be analyzed or studied constructively, and the cause of failure should be realized. Once you understand the cause of failure, you can make a decision to correct it, and once it is corrected, then you progress towards success.

To overcome the feeling of failure, you’ve to learn to forget the failure.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

What is Failure?

‘Failure’ is a very common word that you come across often in your daily life. But what do you mean by failure?

Failure is a negative state of mind, where you see no good, or no progress, or no learning. It is the opposite of positive thinking and motivation.

Whenever you think about failures, there are two possible contradictory thoughts that come to mind:

  • You forget your achievements and always think about the failures.
  • You forget your failures and always think about the achievements.

The former reminds you about the human tendency to always think about the failures, which is a negative way of thinking and creates depression within you.

However, the second option reminds you that failure is not an option. You acknowledge and credit yourself for the past successes and build a strong belief that if you’ve done it in the past, you can do it now too. This state of mind reminds you that failure is not failure, and asks you to think positively.

It is a positive way of thinking and helps you to receive positive energy and enthusiasm to think about the future. It reminds you how to not fear failure and instead, understand from the failures and asks you to do something about it.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

Failure is Not an Option

I would like to share a beautiful example along with a video that I had recently seen about why failure is not failure, and how to not fear failure and proceed ahead.

I wonder if you heard about the memorable Olympic Athlete of the 1968 Mexico City Games, and about one of the participants John Stephen Akhwari – the marathon runner from Tanzania.

Half way through the race John fell, badly cutting his knee and dislocating his joint. Most runners at that point of time would have given up. But after a few minutes John picked himself up, strapped up his leg, and kept running.

With just a few spectators left and after an hour had passed with the winner finishing the race, into the stadium came John Akhwari with his bleeding and bandaged leg.

He was wincing in pain with every step he took, yet he pressed on and his courageous heart never stopped running.

After a few minutes of silence, began a slow, steady clapping as he made his painful way around the track till he hobbled across the finish. The crowd cheered and roared as if he was the winner, though he finished last among the 74 competitors!

John learnt how to not fear failure because he knew failure is something temporary, which is not going to define him but his efforts.

He was asked why he endured the pain as there was no chance of his winning, and why he didn’t think about retiring from the race as he had an option of leaving because of his injury.

Akhwari seemed puzzled at the question, and simply said these spirited lines:

“My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race.” ~ John Stephen Akhwari.

There is no mention of this courageous man in the record books, but that’s not the point. It’s the people who remember John more than the man who won gold, even though he came in last!

They saw him as the man who knew how not to fear failure, as failure is not an option he had because his thoughts were focused on finishing the race.

Spare a few minutes and watch his personal story of courage:

[youtube id=”Hq3rOMnLGBk” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Finish the Race ~ personal story of courage – John Stephen Akhwari You Tube video

How to Not Fear Failure to be Successful?

Failures help you sharpen your skills better than success, because when you fail and take time to learn from your failures, you find out what you need to improve.

Just as the saying goes, the largest room in the world is the room for improvement.

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end street.” ~ William A. Ward.

Successful people don’t avoid failures, they learn to handle it successfully and learn from it. Don’t spend much time worrying about failure, as you increase your chances of failing.

Take the example of Abraham Lincoln who said:

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

He was born into poverty, and knew defeat. The only education that he received was self-acquired, and he failed in business and was defeated many times for public office.

However, each failure taught him to learn from his mistakes, and rather than being a failure at success, he experienced successful failures. These failed experiences didn’t stop him; they taught him.

Failures are Stepping Stones

To make you life joyful and successful, you need to transform your failures into achievements. You can learn how to not fear failure by trying out the following:

1- Analyze the Failures

If you make a proper analysis, you will be able to understand that every failure is a stepping stone towards success.

Every failure reminds you that to fail does not really mean a failure, or that you are a failure, or that you have failed. Failure is not failure in the real sense.

Everyone faces failure, but you need to remember that every person reaches success after a number of failed attempts only.

The failure tells you that you have tried your level best to achieve a goal, and that effort itself is a positive step, a stepping stone to success.

2- Forget the Failures

Once you have analyzed the failures, you should try to forget them. You need to remember that no man is perfect, and everyone is on the road towards perfection.

Thus, on this road to perfection, you will have to face failures, which is natural. You should have a mind to learn from these failures, and such an attitude will lead you to success.

3- Overcome the Failures

If you try constantly, you will realize that failure is not failure for you. You must have heard about Sir Thomas Alva Edison, who invented the electric bulb.

Before the invention of the electric bulb, he met failures nearly 200 times, but he never gave up. He considered the failures as the stepping-stones to success, and never considered the failures as a disgrace in his life.

You should develop such an attitude in your life too and understand that failure is only a temporary set-back. Knowing how to not fear failure helps you to rise and move ahead in life.

4- Failure is Not Final

You might have failed in the past, or you might be facing failures in your present life, but it is not a reason to say or think that you will face failures in your future. Remember, failure is not final in itself.

Such a wrong or pessimistic way of thinking will not take you to success. Instead, you must be optimistic in your thoughts, and have confidence in your abilities and capabilities. You need to cultivate self-knowledge within you.

You do not fail, until your inner self gives up the action or the effort to attain goals. So, remember that failure is not failure, but the greatest failure in your life is to stop trying again.

5- Trust in God

You should accept failure as an opportunity to improve your own effort, and remember that it’s not a problem that cannot be solved.

To solve problems and to find the solution, we need God’s help. It makes no sense in complaining or crying over the failures. Instead, pray to God and seek His guidance.

Remember that prayer inspires us to have faith and perseverance.

6- Get Motivated

Whenever you face failures, or fear failures, or get worried about failures, try to recollect the stories of great men who overcame failures with positive thinking. Remember them again and again, and get inspired and motivated from them.

Try to receive energy from the lives of such people who have overcome their failures, and at the same time look around at other people. Observe how the people in your neighborhood have learnt how to not fear failure by their own constant efforts.

Think about the blind woman in your neighborhood who works as a receptionist at an office, or about the handicapped man who goes to office every morning and does his job successfully.

Have you read the story of Sir John Milton who wrote “The Paradise Lost”? He was blind when he had written this world classic.

Similarly, think about the life of Helen Keller. She was blind, deaf, and dumb from her childhood. But, she did not want to accept defeat in her life. With her determination and will-power, she conquered the world of handicapped people.

Such people, whether they were successful or not, had kept the thought of failure away from their minds to find success in life. They knew that failure is not an option they had to meet their goals.

For them, failure was a challenge, an experience that had taught them a lot. Despite of all the falls and failures, they rose high in their lives because they learnt how to not fear failure.

“It is not whether you get knocked down; it is whether you get up again.” ~ Vinci Lombardi

I read somewhere that if you are not failing; you are not succeeding, which is so true! Failure IS the main ingredient in the recipe for success; its 10 parts education, 20 parts effort, and 70 parts of failure. And remember the Japanese proverb – “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

So, don’t lower your eye, cover your mouth, hang your head in shame, or feel ashamed of facing or admitting your failures.

Remember, when your attitude is right, failures help and improve you in the real sense. They give you a chance to see where you fall short, to learn more about yourself, to change, and show how you can grow to your greatest potential.

Over to you

Do you believe that failure is not failure? Do you also believe that failure is not an option in your life? Have you experienced failure in your life and what did you do to overcome it? Did your success teach you how to not fear failure? Share your views in the comments below.


Photo Credit: LifeSpurecharger

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83 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. santosh kumar

    2018-12-11 at 10:37 pm

    Hi ma’am

    Lovely post, I enjoyed while reading it and learned so much from it. Ma’am, you are an admirable, inspiring blogger, web content creator; everytime you publish something it has immense value in it.

    In my perception, failure can either make us or break us. It is up to us how we perceive the term failure. Only thing I want to mention in this comment that if you get failed in something, Try once again until you get success in your pathway.

    Grow your learning in each failure and have some spiritual faith in your belief system. In my term, Shiva is always there in my hard times.

    Let us help this world to become a better place for everyone, Wishing everyone massive success, happiness, and prosperity.

    Santosh Gairola

  2. Abhishek Suneri

    2016-04-15 at 12:53 pm

    Again a marvellous post.
    Rightly said, “failure is negative state of mind”. It lies only in our perception, some people treat failure as a dead end, other see it only as a mile stone in the way to success.

    I think, the notion of success and failure is incorrect. In fact, there is no such thing as success or failure, they are only state of mind, stoppages in our journey, where we can stay for some time to be happy or sorrow, but we have to move on.

    In this journey, failure is better than success, because failure makes us content with our existing skills, whereas failure forces us to fight, improve, and become stronger than we were before our failure.

  3. Ahsanul Karim

    2015-01-04 at 12:10 pm

    Hello Harleena Singh,

    The most common use proverb – Failure is the key to success. Failure will come in life. Without fail we never think of prosperity. We see lots of example in history. When King Bruce was living in cave after losing battle, he saw a spider failed to create its webs for 7-8 times but finally it succeeded. It motivated the King. Then he again fought another battle & this time he regained his Kingdom.

    You mixed the article with lots of inspiring quotes. It will definitely motivate everyone.

    Thanks for sharing such interesting post to motivate unsuccessful people. Have a happy weekend 🙂

  4. A.P.AKHIL

    2013-06-30 at 12:58 am

    Hi Harleena mam,

    It took me hours to reach to this comment as every post of yours was attracting me to read it, as your caste is ‘singh’ you must be sikh…and I’m too from Chandigarh… Its really glad to meet you, I was going through all the comments and the replies given by you and I really like the way you talk in a humble and simple behavior… I’m lucky to meet personalities like you,…you are an inspiration to me and I will surely like to be in touch with your blog. Thanx for this great blogging experience…Happy blogging.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-06-30 at 11:28 am

      Welcome to the blog Akhil!

      Glad you liked the post and the blog as well 🙂

      Nice to know more about you, and yes the blog readers are generous and kind in their comments, which brings out the best in me too when I reply to them with a hope that my posts and comments help them in some way or the other.

      It’s a pleasure to meet you too, and thanks so much for stopping by. Have a nice weekend as well 🙂

      • A.P.AKHIL

        2013-07-03 at 11:09 pm

        Ohh mam, your wishes mean a lot for me, I am really a great fan of you as i researched about you and came to know that you are the top 10 bloggers in India, and the pleasure is all mine to meet you..

  5. Dilip

    2012-10-06 at 9:30 pm

    A beautiful and comprehensive exposition on “Failiure” and how to deal with it. Your thoughts as well as the quotes do enrich the readers mind and can provide innense inspiration.

    Thank you Harleena for this lovely post.


    • Harleena Singh

      2012-10-06 at 10:26 pm

      Glad you liked the post Dilip!

      I guess most of us tend to fear failures, which often stops us from proceeding further. However, each failure teaches us something in return and makes us stronger to deal with life ahead, thus, they don’t really have to be feared – isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by, and your words of appreciation. 🙂

  6. Tarun Bajaj

    2012-10-06 at 5:06 pm

    The word failure creates a sense of fear in all of us, for sure… well.. after reading this wonderful .. wonderful article.. things are going to change for me.. the quotes, motto is apt.. don’t get demotivated when you fail, its actually a necessary steps in the making of your success… GREAT!!!

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-10-06 at 5:34 pm

      Welcome to the blog Traun!

      Yes indeed, we do tend to be scared of failures and often fear them. However, we don’t realize that these very failures are our stepping stones to success. I am glad you could find something valuable to take back home from the post.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  7. shan pill

    2012-08-02 at 10:28 am


    The fear of failure is perhaps the strongest force holding people below their potential. In a world full of uncertainty, a delicate economy, and countless misfortunes that could happen to anyone, it’s easy to see why most people are inclined to play it safe. But playing it safe has risk as well.

    If you never dare to fail, your success will have a low ceiling. Most people underestimate their merit and ability to recover from failure, leading them to pass up valuable opportunities. The ability to fail big and fail often has been a mark of the spectacularly successful throughout history.

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-08-03 at 11:19 pm

      Welcome to the blog Shan!

      Absolutely! It’s always the fear that we might fail, which prevents us from proceeding further. And there’s risk in everything we do, whether we like it or not. I guess taking risks is what challenges you to step forward and do something, rather than not trying at all.

      People do underestimate their potential and thus prefer not trying anything new, because they have the fear of failing on their minds. But if they don’t try or fail they don’t really achieve success, nor do they learn about the process to achieve what they want.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  8. Mayura

    2012-05-22 at 7:59 am

    Hi Harleena,

    I found this is really a great post 🙂 I’m inspired.

    Once I thought failure as a failure. I was really shy to fail and actually in front of others. I don’t say I’m not shy now, but mostly I admit it and talk about it 🙂 I like more challenges. However there is a advantage of trying not to fail again and being afraid of failure. As I were afraid of my failures, I start to have my own back up plans or recovery plans if things go wrong for me. Not everytime, but mostly it works. Even we afraid to failure or not, having those plans is always better.

    I believe every failure or success have a reason behind them. I don’t care about things happened to me. Mostly I try to imply preventative measures from them and get ready for next time. That’s where experience comes. But sometimes I miss it too. I’m not a perfect soul anyway 😉

    Some days I try to re-design my blog whole day, but end up with nothing. But I never fed up of it. I always looking out for better ways to go through. I never stop trying until I satisfy with it. And some days, I do it in few moments 🙂 Same goes for when it comes to writing too.

    I like your steps about transforming failures into achievements. But I have my own believes too. Your steps are pretty straight and practically for analysis we need much effort and that’s what we don’t do at most times. Right? However everytime initiation takes much effort and that’s where our will and attitude comes in.

    Everyone’s fail. But everyone who fail doesn’t win always. People have their own ways of overcoming fails and factors to get motivated. They have to identify what they can and can’t do. So they can really improve themselves over failures more effectively.

    Have a inspiring day dear 🙂


    • Harleena Singh

      2012-05-24 at 5:55 pm

      Welcome to the blog Mayura!

      Glad that you are inspired reading the post. If we don’t take failure as failure in the real sense and find ways to overcome those failures by taking them as learning experiences, we would not fear them and they would eventually lead us to success.

      Having a backup plan or taking preventive measures by being prepared for things in advance is a wonderful way to stay updated if things go wrong or fail, due to which you don’t lose out on anything.

      No one’s really perfect, and ups and downs are part of all our lives – isn’t it? And yes, there is always a reason for things that happen in our lives, whether its success or failure, which if we are able to analyze leads to be well prepared and take steps accordingly. The aim should be to keep trying to proceed ahead, and even if we do fail- learn from those failures that will give results sooner or later.

      Without a positive attitude, effort and giving things your best, you can really not achieve much. Often times you have to give yourself that much needed ‘push’ and make that sincere effort to move ahead without bothering about the end result. And even if you fail in your attempts, you need to take it positively.

      Yes, everyone has their own way of learning to overcome their fears, but what matters most is that you take these failures as stepping stones to success and proceed further.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  9. Dilip

    2012-05-12 at 9:25 pm

    Comprehensive and very interesting post. I especially love the apt quotes which are so inspiring.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Harleena Singh

      2012-05-12 at 9:58 pm

      Welcome to the blog Dilip!

      Glad you liked the post and found it interesting. Yes indeed, I love quotes and feel they add much more meaning to the post and inspire us.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  10. Anees

    2012-05-01 at 12:05 pm

    I love reading your posts. I’ve shared your post on ‘recovering from a breakup’ with a friend, and she’s thankful. 🙂

    Last day, I attended a class on personality development, and the speaker told us many things in the post. He told us how Sachin Tendulkar got bowled by a young bowler (I don’t remember his name), how Sachin analyzed the failure (by watching that ball again and again) and why the bowler couldn’t do that again.

    And he showed us videos of people with disabilities, Jesica Cox and Nick Vujicic, and told their success stories. These two people are really inspiring. Jesica don’t have arms but she flies plane using her feet. Nick was born without arms or legs, but he plays golf, can surf and swim. He’s a motivational speaker too.

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-05-01 at 1:41 pm

      Nice to see you back here Anees!

      Glad you enjoy the posts on the blog and thank you for sharing the post on breakup with your friend that she found useful.:)

      Those are wonderful examples, and yes, Sachin learnt to overcome his failures, because he learnt from them and ensured that he didn’t repeat them again, which lead him to turn his failures into success.

      Yes indeed, people like Jessica and Nick teach us that our failures are nothing as compared to what they face because they don’t fear their failures, and they turn their disabilities to abilities and have turned out to be role models for so many.

      Thanks so much for stopping by sharing more about these wonderful people. 🙂

  11. Pete Goumas

    2012-04-15 at 4:30 am

    Hi Harleena,

    It’s an motivating and inspirational post.You have given excellent tips to overcome the fear of failure. I watched the video ‘personal story of courage’ and I can’t explain in words how I am feeling for John and his words are soo valuable for his nation and we could learn a great message from him.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful post with us.

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-04-15 at 11:14 pm

      Welcome to the blog Pete!

      Glad you found the post inspirational and motivational, something that most of the readers also felt. John’s video and his inspiration that comes through his words does touch a cord in our hearts – isn’t it?

      I guess what matters most is that we learn to overcome our failures and learn lessons from them, and take examples of men like John and so many others who faced failures, yet never lost hope and carried on till they were successful.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  12. Syeda Mehwish

    2012-04-15 at 4:25 am

    Hi Harleena,

    This is my first time visit to your blog and it is simply amazing. I am wondering that why I still had not visited your website. Well, it’s an awesome post and you very well explained what is failure and thanks for sharing the example of John Stephen Akhwari, no doubt he is courages man and I love his words that his country send him not to start race but to finish it, awesome!.

    I like your suggestion that whenever we face failures we should recollect the stories of great men who overcame failures with positive thinking. Thank you soo much for this post.

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-04-15 at 11:09 pm

      Welcome to the blog Syeda!

      Glad you liked the blog and it’s never late to connect – isn’t it? Oh yes – John’s video inspired me a great deal, which resulted in penning my thoughts in this post and I think it has struck a chord with most readers as well.

      His words show his courage, determination, and dedication to his nation, and his will-power is what really made him complete the race. He never really thought about failure or was worried that he was last in the race. For him, completing it was more important.

      Yes indeed, I think inspirational stories of great men help and motivate us to overcome and learn from our own failures and mistakes, and get better with time.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  13. Positively Alene

    2012-04-14 at 8:02 pm

    Found you via twitter. So thankful to have hopped over here. Love this post as it’s been something on my heart as I just wrote yesterday “goodbye fear!” Following now as I finish the race.

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-04-14 at 11:00 pm

      Welcome to the blog Alene!

      Nice of you to have stopped by and am happy you liked the post. That is a wonderful coincident that you too wrote on the same topic that I would surely check out. I guess what’s most important is that you learn to overcome and fight your fears – ins’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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How to Not Fear Failure

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