What’s More Scary: Fear of Failure or Success?

Fear of failure is something that I think most writers live with. In order to work, we have to either be answering ads, pitching our services to prospective clients, sending our queries or writing and marketing our own products. Sometimes we get the gig, and other times we don’t.

Most of the time, we realize that we won’t get hired for every opportunity that we go after. Sometimes we can roll with the punches and shake off getting turned down for a gig, while at other times it can be upsetting to find out what the client didn’t feel that we were a good fit for the opportunity.

There isn’t any surefire way to conquer fear of failure entirely, but I like to use pictures in my mind to deal with it. I think of Failure as a creature that looks something like a dragon. Not sure why I chose that particular image, but the fact that it’s a mythical creature probably has something to do with it.

When I start to talk myself out of going after an opportunity that I know I am qualified for, I think about the thing that I’m afraid of – Failure – and I mentally start to stare it down. All I can do is present myself in the best way that I can, and after that point, the decision is out of my hands. The client decides whether I’m someone they want to work with or not.

I think it’s more challenging to deal with fear of success. It has to do with change. Deep down, people don’t like change. You may have gotten hired for the gig, but now you have to prove that you can perform at a higher level. When you pull it off, there may still be a part of you that doesn’t feel deserving of the money, recognition, prestige, or what have you. The success you have achieved is stressful.

I don’t have any magic solution to the issue of fear of success. I know that taking action is a way of dealing with fear. If there is an opportunity you want to go after, do it. If you get hired, give the client your best effort every time. And don’t let fear – of either failure or success – hold you back.


  1. Lisa says

    Great post. Recently, I’ve thought about trying my hand at writing. The past couple of year’s, I’ve been told numerous times I’m a good writer. So, I thought, maybe I should give it a try. I have a themed fear throughout my life and it’s the fear of novelty. Anything new scares me because I don’t know what to do or what to expect. As a result, I tend to drag my feet. I need to find a way temper the water, so to speak.

  2. says

    Great post, Jodee.
    It’s amazing how shining a bright light on things makes them seem so much less daunting. I agree so much with your thoughts on both fear of failure and fear of success.

    Fear of failure doesn’t totally explain it for me. I think in my mind, it’s more of an expectation of failure, at least until lots of struggling is experienced…kind of the “gotta work really hard to get anything, and anything given to you or gotten too easily isn’t worth having” mentality I was brought up with. Unfortunately…
    And that leads almost directly to fear of success for exactly the reasons you mentioned in your post.
    I agree that no magic key to conquering fear of any kind exists, and you hit it right on when you said that action in itself is the closest thing to it we’re likely to find. I find that sheer familiarity with something that makes me uncomfortable, exposure to it over and over, takes the bite out of the beast.
    Have a great weekend!


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