Let me ask you a question…what do you think is the greatest obstacle to YOUR success?

In the context of having a successful personal relationship, do you think it’s your looks, how you dress, how you talk to a partner, or how you chat to a prospective partner when you’re chatting them up in a bar or at a dinner party…you know and you’re laying on all the charm? Or is it your weight? The colour of your skin?

How about in business? What’s the greatest obstacle to success there? Money? Connections? Being in the right time and place? Having an MBA? Having a great business idea?

Shall I tell you?


In particular, the fear of failure is the single biggest obstacle to success in your life.

We can become totally pre-occupied with not making a mistake, with not putting ourselves in situations where we might fail, with constantly seeking approval for security from those around us above anything else.

Our language can be the first indication that the fear of failure sits heavy on our mind.

Words like “I can’t”, “I won’t”, “I’m not going to be able to..” are evidence of that fear.

We get that twisting, churning feeling deep in our belly, and that rapid racing heart, you struggle to catch your breath, and your throat feels tight.

That fear strikes deeper and you get that irresistible urge to run to the bathroom.

Sound familiar?

Hand in hand with the fear of failure is the fear of rejection

This is the second major fear that interferes with performance, interaction and inhibits expression.

This is something we learn as kids when our parents create this complex equivalent of A=B …for example, a certain behaviour = their approval/their love

If we do something that pleases them, we believe it gives us their love and approval. If we do something they don’t like, they withdraw their love and approval which we interpret as rejection….and that’s something that’s drilled into our subconscious as kids.

Ever recall your mum or dad saying “If you love mummy/daddy, you’ll finish your dinner?”  or “ I won’t be pleased if you don’t clean up your room!”

 That type of conditioning causes us to become overly concerned with what others think of us as we grow older. It follows us through life like a bad smell, ready to trip us up at any opportunity.

And this leads to a situation where the majority of adults at some point in their lives experience both these fears of failure and rejection in their personal and professional lives.

Their minds are constantly battling the negative chatter…”I can’t, but “I have to,” or “I have to,” but “I can’t.”

I’m sure you can relate to that, true?

Think of when you’ve been on the dating scene, and you’ve thought to yourself, wow, that guy or girl looks so fit, I know I have to go and chat to them, but I can’t, I don’t know what to say, what if they laugh at me, what happens if there are long awkward silences? What if I’m’ not their type?

Or in business where you know you can’t pitch your business ideas to your boss or investors because you’re terrified of what they might think or say, but you know you have t.

That fear of rejection and the fear of failure paralyzes you.

Here’s the truth

You can eliminate those fears by self- development. Building your self-esteem, how much you value yourself, can have a massive impact on you.

More importantly, you have to work on your thoughts.

Your fear of rejection, your fear of failure doesn’t exist outside of your head.

There is nothing stopping you other than YOU

Developing a stronger sense of self, and self-respect are important.

Pushing and encouraging yourself in situations you’d normally avoid is a brilliant technique that boosts your sense of self to such an extent that your fears subside and lose their ability to affect your behavior and your decisions.

So when you find yourself in those awkward situations, first, realize and accept that you can do anything you put your mind to. Repeat the words, “I can do it! whenever you feel fearful for any reason, and think about how great you’ll feel once you’ve done it.

And remember that anything that doesn’t work out how you planned it is just temporary, and an opportunity to learn how to succeed.

A valuable mantra to remember here is “There’s no failure, only feedback”

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Umesh Damania