I am going to bombard you with quotes on this subject…

People marvel at how great leaders have overcome huge obstacles and personal failures to achieve greatness…and yet they allow their own fear of failure to render them powerless…to freeze them into inaction.

My Father once said to me, “The question is not whether or not you will ever make a mistake, but when you do, how will you respond?”

One thing in common with many great leaders is that they are not afraid of failure.  They recognize that there will be obstacles and setbacks, but have confidence that they will find a way to overcome them.  They even look at their failures, and how they responded to those failures, as the key to their ultimate success.

MJ Picture 2

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  24 times I’ve been

trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.

  And, that is why I succeed.”  Michael Jordan



“The only way to avoid failure is to do nothing…but, that is not leading.”  Scott Neilson

On many occasions I have observed that people are afraid of making decisions or taking action for fear of getting a “blemish” on their record if things do not go perfectly.  They believe that it will tarnish their records and damage their careers.  Failure must be avoided at all costs…everything must be safe.  So, they do nothing.

Leadership coaches and gurus regard resilience as an essential leadership skill.  Resilience means encountering obstacles and experiencing setbacks, and overcoming them.  Well, you do not develop resilience if you do not have setbacks, and the only way to avoid setbacks is to do nothing…but that is not leading.


“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”  Benjamin Franklin

How many times have you undertaken a task and had it go perfectly?  Aren’t the situations in which you have had to overcome unforeseen circumstances and obstacles the best examples of your strengths and abilities?  So, what is there to fear?

At the end of the day, fear of failure is as much about worrying about what other people will think of you as it is about the actual consequences of being wrong.  If you worry about what people will think, you will not try.  If you do not try, you will not succeed.

Now think about this.  If you were to interview a dozen people about their opinions of an event or an accomplishment, you would get a dozen different opinions…and some of those will be good!  So, which one are you worrying about?


“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.”  Marilyn Ferguson

Great leaders are said to have great confidence.  They are confident in the clarity of the direction they have chosen and what it takes to get there.  They are confident that there will be setbacks, but that they will find a way to achieve those goals.  They are not afraid of failure.  They are free to make it happen.

“Where there is no fear there is no danger.”  Grasshopper (Kung Fu Television Series)