Is fear of failure really the fear of judgement?

Published on 
3 min, 445 words

In the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho there is a quote “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” This ties in nicely with an observation from Gino Wickman in a podcast with Lewis Howes (School of Greatness) recently. He observed that in a lot of cases the fear of failure is really a fear of judgement.

Based on these two observations you could surmise that maybe one of the things that makes a dream impossible is a fear of judgement. Is the fear of what others may think preventing progress towards that dream?

Personally when I was growing up, especially at school, I was driven by a fear of failure. I was scared to make mistakes. I would not question things in class and I would work very hard to ensure I knew as much as possible so there was less risk of being wrong. I would not talk to people I didn’t know and I would not take many risks. Some of these things are still part of who I am today.

Taking this in context with the above, a lot of my fear of failure was driven by what others would think of me - I was always conscious of how they might react to what I did. Would they make fun of me? Would they have a different opinion of me?

My teenage daughter recently had the opportunity to preach for ten minutes on the subject of fear at our church. I am not going to discuss the fear of public speaking however I am going to highlight one phrase that came out of her message. She was talking about the section in the bible where Jesus’ disciples are in the boat and a storm suddenly rages - Jesus is asleep. They wake him.and he calms the storm. He then asks them “Why are you so afraid?” (Mark 4:40).

It is a great question to ask next time you are scared to do something - whether you are a Christian or not. Why am I so afraid to do … (insert the action of your choice)? Is it because you really are afraid or is it because you are really afraid of what others may think?

Next time you are confronted with a task that you are afraid of could it be the fear of failure and in turn the fear of being judged by others that is holding you back? What would be different if you didn’t care what others thought?


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