For Fear Of Failure

What keeps you from trying something new?

I grapple with this question in my work life and home life. We tend to stick to the things we know which keeps us from trying new things. You’ve seen that right? If you’re in L&D then the answer should be yes, but this isn’t about L&D.

My theory is that we get so comfortable in one place that we stop trying, you know, wresting on our laurels. We’d rather things stay the same and comfortable as they are now. The problem is comfort and keeping things the same doesn’t work, things quickly move past us and we’re left irrelevant.

Job security is a perfect example of this comfort frame of mind. One goal for a lot of people is job security.

Does job security today mean that we’re setting ourselves up for future failures?

It would seem to me that job security and career failure are slowly merging into one. Job security to me means that one day you’ll lose your job and be unprepared to find a new one, not be secure in your job forever. Some will be lucky and skate through and achieve true job security with no need to do things different and new, but not many.

How does job security and fear of failure fit together? I’ll try to figure that out for myself below.

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure shows itself by sticking to the comfortable and the familiar with the hopes that external forces will also stay predictable.

The question I don’t know the answer to is this:

Does comfort create the fear of failing or does chance of failure create the push to find that comfort zone?

I have a tendency to look at the unfamiliar and going a new path with question and hesitation. There’s always an internal fight between my want and need to do things different and better versus the comfortable option of doing it the same it’s always been done, usually the easy way.

When I approach a new project, like anybody I have that fear of failure and the fear of the unknown. Even with a high level of confidence that I can get stuff done, I still have those nagging questions that pull at me, that fear of failure.

I’ve fought the tendency for the comfortable, especially the past few years. How do I do it? Doing things differently each time, never accepting that I’ve found the best way of doing something. Accepting that I’ve found the best way of doing something to me is succumbing to the comfort that can easily suck us in.

Process is the enemy of innovation.

When I’m doing things different, I always seek perfection with the realization that I’ll never reach perfection, only continuous improvement.


Even I (who loves trying new things, learning new things, and figuring out new ways of doing everything better) have the tendency to also fall into a comfort rut.

It’s hard to kick when we’re happy (or maybe not even happy!) and in a good place at work and home. As I was writing that I had the though of not being happy.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re comfortable but would rather not leave that comfort? You know it’s not making you happy yet you can’t stop it because it’s so comfortable?

Been there too!

I can think of the perfect example. How about the person that gets so comfortable not exercising, lounging on the couch watching TV and living day-to-day vegging out. It’s comfortable and seem like you’re happy, but it doesn’t feel good to be there. It’s depressing being inside and so dormant sitting on the couch all day everyday yet it’s one of those things that’s hard to kick. I think this plays in nicely to learned helplessness, you become complacent to the downward spiral.

Trying something new by getting outside, exercising, exploring your environment is the best way to get out of that rut and do something healthy for your life. It’s not an easy thing to do but something that requires pressure from yourself to get up and do it.

I think that same mentality works for a career too. Getting out of a rut, out of the norm and trying something new is the best way to move forward.

What’s Stopping You?

There are many things that can stop you from doing what you want. Failure is just one of those things but it can appear in hundreds of different ways.

Have you made a conscious effort to stop and think about what’s stopping you from getting where you want and need to get?

Is fear of failure one of those things and what can you do to overcome it?

I wish it where easier to recognize those fears of failure to stop them. Reflection is a great way to discover them and a conscious effort to do something different is the best way to stop them.