by | Nov 21, 2017 | Personal Development

What would you do if you couldn’t fail?

Well, fear of failure is a very common feeling that I work on with clients but what you might not know is that fear of success is something equally as prevalent. Just as often I’ll be talking to people who are blocking their success, as those who are blocking their failure.

Either way I want to give you a couple of ideas on how you could address one, other or both.

So fear of failure or fear of success is just a fear of the unknown.

It’s a fear of what will happen if…

  • What will happen if I fail?
  • What will happen if I succeed?

The Pre-mortem

A useful tool is what I call the pre-mortem. We know what a post mortem is, that’s when we dissect everything that happened and maybe see if there are things that we can change for the future.

But a useful tool is a pre-mortem.

  • So what might happen?
  • What might happen if I fail?
  • What might happen if I succeed?

Now, aside from the fact that I don’t really subscribe to the idea of failure, I believe that there is no failure only feedback.

What feedback would we get if things didn’t go the way that we had hoped?

What could possibly happen?

And just as we did 50 reasons why for the Comparisonitis Blog (so if you haven’t read that go back and have a look at that one) let’s try and list as many things that could happen if things didn’t go according to plan. Because once we know, then we can do something about it. Then we can put contingencies in place.

When it’s stuck in our heads all we do is worry and I quite often say that worry is an indulgence. It’s just an energy drain. It doesn’t actually do anything to help us deal with the problem in front of us. Now there are some arguments against that, that’s fine, but for the purposes of this exercise, I want you to get that worry out onto paper and write as many reasons, as many things as you can think of, about what will happen if you fail.

And if your fear is of success, then do the same thing. You know, what will happen if you are successful? It may mean taking you away from your family. It may mean being more visible. It may mean leaving the work that you’re currently doing and moving into a different role.

So get all of these reasons, these possible outcomes down on paper because then you can start to devise contingencies and say, well if this happens then I will do X.

It’s very simple once you have the the possible outcomes on paper.

4 Questions to help

If that’s not your jam then there’s another tool that I use and it’s four questions. Just four simple questions that help you get unstuck.

If you are trying to do something and you have a fear of failure or trying to do something and you suspect you might have a fear of success and it’s keeping you stuck then I want you to work through these four questions:

#1 – What will happen if you do?

  • What will happen if you do the thing? Well I might fail and that means A, B and C. Or I might succeed and that means X, Y and Z.


#2 – What will happen if you don’t?

  • If you don’t do the action, if you don’t give it a shot, what is going to happen? Well, things are probably going to stay the same, or there might be some other changes.


#3 – What won’t happen if you do?

  • If you embark on the goal, what’s not going to happen?


#4 – What won’t happen if you don’t do the thing?

  • What might you miss out on, or what is the benefit if you don’t?

And these are often just enough to get my clients unstuck. Give them a go and let me know how you get on.

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