The Fear of Failure


The fear of failure is more common than you think. How to bounce back from defeat and reach your full potential.

By Bill Cole, MS, MA


How do you react when you make a mistake, or when you fail? Do you have a plan for using failure to help you succeed? Top performers and achievers have developed powerful mental strategies for bouncing back from seeming defeats and to catapult themselves to the next level of success. You can learn those strategies, too.

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I’ve been helping people turn a fear of failure into opportunity for the past 30 years, as a mental-game peak-performance coach. The way lies in having powerful, tested, mental-game peak-performance strategies at your disposal—what your mind believes you will achieve.


10 Powerful Turn-Failure-Into-Success Strategies

Henry Ford believed that “Failure is only an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” As Woody Allen said, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying anything.” And Winston Churchill held that “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” All these great men know or have known that dealing with failure successfully is part of a winner’s mind set. Here are my top-10 mental strategies that winners use to keep them strong and steer them towards success.

1. Winners realize that every human being makes mistakes Richard Whately once said, “He only is exempt from failures that makes no effort.” Even seemingly perfect, famous people make mistakes every day. If they fail, so can we. And we can move on from those errors to reach our potential.

2. Winners attempt to make fewer mistakes “The greatest general is he who makes the fewest mistakes.” Napoleon Bonaparte was right. In sports, the team making the fewest errors usually wins. Most battles are won through error containment. Make your mistakes, but limit when you do them and how often.

3. Winners correct their mistakes St. Augustine said “It is human to err, but it is devilish to remain willfully in error.” Confucius said, “A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.” Winners take mistakes as an opportunity to make good, to move on, and to learn from the situation.

4. Winners take responsibility for their errors “Do not blame anyone for your mistakes and failures.” Bernard Baruch meant that to grow and change, we must see all of reality and we must deal with that reality. The first step in gaining control over our errors is admitting that they exist.

5. Winners don’t make the same mistake twice “He who’s cheated twice by the same man is an accomplice with the cheater.” Thomas Fuller said this to encourage us to learn from a mistake, vow to never repeat it, and to move on without reservation or fear of making other mistakes.

6. Winners fail fast and move on Business guru Tom Peters says, “Only with failure can you verify wrong ways of doing things and discard those practices that hinder success.” Winners cultivate an attitude of “lead, follow or get out of the way.” They are voracious for success, and devour any mistake that can take them closer and faster to that success.

7. Winners create a lifetime self-coaching system Baruch said that “The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.” Develop a self-coaching system that helps you to identify your errors, define them, accept responsibility for them and improve them, and to do all that with a positive attitude.

8. Winners View Failure As Just A Detour, Just a Delay “I think and think for months, for years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.” Albert Einstein knew that persistence was key in being “creative”. The answer did not just drop out of the sky. He worked at it; he stayed with it.

9. Winners know that failure is the teacher of success John McEnroe said, “The important thing is to learn a lesson every time you lose.” McEnroe won more times than any other tennis pro of his era, yet even he knows that errors are the signposts to success.

10. Winners know that admitting failure shows you to be a secure person Pro-golfing legend Lee Travino said, “We all choke, and the man who says he doesn’t choke is lying like hell. We all leak oil.” The person trying to project an image of perfection is setting up a fragile reality, ready to burst at the wrong time. Be secure in your human imperfection. It’s easier than building an image that can’t be maintained.


Develop Your Philosophy of Failure, To Reach Success

Are you building a master strategy of how you will react to mistakes when they happen? Do you have a plan for mentally handling errors and bouncing back from seeming defeat? What strategies from the top-10 list above can you adopt and begin using right away to launch yourself towards higher levels of success?

To learn about sports psychology coaching services offered by Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™, visit

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a firm that helps sports teams and individuals achieve greater success. He has also coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time college athletics.

Copyright © 2000-2008 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved. is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

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