Tag Archives: failure

Breaking the Fear Cycle

Fear as per the dictionary is “distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

All of us feel fear.  There is no escaping fear.  In fact, there are many benefits of fear such as:

  • Helps you to survive
  • Keeps you safe
  • Keeps you within the law
  • Drives you to improve and be better

Therefore having a healthy dose of fear is good for you.

However, on the flip side, fear is also the number one reason for a life not lived.  Fear does not start and end with just one act, it creates a perpetual cycle – the Fear Cycle.  The fear cycle looks something like this:


The fear cycle will generally consist of these 4 elements:

  1. Paralysis:  You are so afraid that you will literary decide to do nothing.  It is perceived to be safer if you did not try anything new or to take risk.  Over time, you will not learn, not grow and not progress.  You will continue to just live within the boundary that is perceived to be your comfort zone.
  2. Excuses:  You will then look around and wonder “Why is my friend so successful?”.  “Why am I not progressing?”.  “Why has nothing changed?”.  To these questions the answers will be “Oh it’s just their luck”.  “Right place at the right time.”.  “I was not given that opportunity.” “I just don’t know where to start.”  You will create reasons or excuses but never face the realities of what your fears are preventing you from achieving.
  3. Negativity:  Over time, the lack of progress will cause you to believe your excuses and further create a negative perspective of situations and of your life.  Negativity will creep in and you will know its symptoms when you have emotions such as envy, bitterness, anger, self-doubt and so on.
  4. Purposeless:   When nothing seems to be happening, and everything is just bleak, you will not be able to see or define a purpose.   To drift through the everyday purposeless.  You will see signs of that when you wonder what you have achieved, what is this life about and so on.  You will just go through the day living out the routine and not being fulfilled.

The most common fear is the fear of failure.  The only way to break free from the fear cycle is to address it head-on by changing the definition and perspective of failure.  The fear of failure, is the result of what you perceive failure to be.  For example, you perceive failure as:

  • Personal:  I am a failure and I will always be a failure.
  • Talent or Intelligence related:  Only the NOT Smart or NOT good fail
  • Defect:  There is something wrong with me or I am NOT good at anything
  • Self-Worth:  If I fail, I will always be a failure.

Therefore in order to break that cycle you will need to redefine failure and more importantly what it is NOT:

  1. You are NOT a failure.  To fail in an activity does NOT mean that you are a failure.  The task and the person are two distinctly separate entities.
  2. Failure is NOT avoidable.  Once we realise that we cannot run away or avoid failure, you will come to accept that it is just part and parcel of life.  It is part of learning and growing.  It is life.  Don’t try to avoid failure.  Learn to learn from failure and be better.
  3. Failure is NOT permanent.  You might fail in a certain task but as you learn and improve your skills, you will be able to accomplish whatever the task.  To fail does not mean that you will continually fail.  It is not permanent.
  4. Failure is NOT a step backward but a step forward.  Just because an activity did not get the results that you had hope for does not mean that you will never be able to achieve the goal.  It provides you with lessons on what not to do and what to do next.  It is a step forward for you.



Establish a New and Healthy relationship with failure.  We will all fail even in doing something that we are good at.  To fail at something provides us with lessons on what to do and what not to do for the next time.  It is a step closure to getting it right.  In fact you will learn more when you fail than when you succeed.

Think about:

  • What you would like to achieve in 2017 and beyond?
  • What goals are you working towards?
  • What are the challenges and barriers that you will need to overcome?
  • What do you need to do to overcome them?
  • What help do I need?
  • Where can I find the resources to help me?
  • How do I build my action plan?

PS:  Special for March, I am conducting a special free 30-min session to help you with any questions around coaching that you might have and how coaching could be the resource you might need to help you have a purposeful year.  Just click here to start the journey.

3 ways to recover from an “epic fail”

Have you ever made a mistake?  Have you ever felt like you have failed?  Have you ever thought that you could not come back after this epic fail?  I am sure that I am not alone in experiencing set backs and failures.  Hindsight will tell us that those “epic fail” moments are when we learned the most about ourselves and how to get back up and start again.  It is in those moments that will either grow or break us.

There is only ONE critical mindset to have and that is to be able to separate the person from the act or mistake.  The “person” is who you are vs. the action that a person takes or makes.  Therefore the act or actions may have been a fail, the person is not a fail.  Once we are able to distinguish the two different categories, we can move on the to the ways of recovering from the act that was an “epic fail” in your mind.

I have observed with my coaching clients that there are 3 critical attitudes that exist in order to transform after an “epic fail”.

  1. Acknowledgement.  Acknowledgement and taking ownership of the mistake.  Taking responsibility for it is the first step in figuring out how to ensure that it does not happen again.
  2. Facing the consequences.  Facing the consequences of the mistake is the next step.  We all know that with every action there are consequences that follow whether good or bad.  Having the courage to face the consequences and responding to it demonstrates your maturity and professionalism.  Most of us, if we could, would like to avoid consequences especially if its negative.  However, it is important as part of taking ownership of the mistake is to manage the situation.
  3. Be alert to the warning signs.  As with all learning experiences, once we have learned from a mistake, we are more aware of the signs of an “epic fail” before it happens.  The key is to always be alert for these warning signs and know how to manage the situation accordingly.   Just like we know that touching fire will be painful, we will certainly be aware of just how close we can be to fire before it becomes painful or dangerous.  We need to be aware of situations where we might be tempted to make the same mistake.  Take precautions.

Once we are able to acknowledge , face the set back and take steps to prevent it, the next important thing to note is to never be afraid to take risk and try.  Being afraid of another set back can potentially be a bigger obstacle to your success and growth than the set back itself.  I think that the most important thought to remember is this:  We all learn through mistakes and grow from set backs.  Do not be afraid of mistakes and failures.  Failure does not define who you are but just an action that you have taken and learn from .

Coming back stronger after an “epic fail” requires:

  • Self awareness:  Being self-aware is critical in acknowledging your strengths along with weaknesses.  Know where you are vulnerable and need help and ask for help.  Know where your strengths are and how to build upon it.  As they say, play to your strength.
  • Remember past accomplishments.   List down all your strengths and past accomplishment to remind yourself just how far you have come and achieved.  This simple exercise can remind you of your capabilities and restore your self-confidence.
  • Courage:  It does take courage to get back up and give it another go.  Part of courage is about being humble to acknowledge and owned the epic fail and then to take the step out to try again.  Take courage that you are able and capable of performing the task ahead.  You are not where you are today without coming back after a fail.

I have noticed how some client’s body language and disposition changes once listing down their strengths and accomplishments reminds them of their self-confidence and abilities.  Each of us need a little reminding sometimes just to restore our own self-esteem.

Remember than a “fail” in your actions does not make you a failure.  Each of us learn from our fail and are better from it.