4 Proven Fundamentals to Overcome Our Obsession with Failure

What makes successful people excel in almost every aspect of their life? These achievers seem to be able to accomplish amazing things in life and overcome tremendous obstacles. They don’t appear to know what failure is! 

Our society is consumed with an obsession with failure. A fear rooted so deep that it often prevents bright professionals from becoming their best. We believe that failure is a stigma. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Expecting Success

There’s no luck involved with being successful. In fact, there is no such thing as success without failure. Most highly successful individuals come from below average means and broken homes. According to Tulane University: most entrepreneurs fail 3.8 times before achieving success. 

Successful entrepreneurs may not always get it right the first time but they do understand that 3 steps forward and 2 steps back still gets you 1 step ahead! The problem is: we’ve been brainwashed into failure avoidance and success expectation.

“Most people believe that they’ll wake up someday and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.” 

– Thomas Edison

Success is not an entitlement program and it doesn’t come without failure. We have an entirely wrong response to what we perceive as failure.

The Lonely Road of Excellence

The loneliest professionals are those that constantly strive for perfection and have little tolerance for mistakes. Those ill-prepared to receive failure are often plagued with fear and doubt. Typically self-imposed impossible expectations of performance spill over onto loved ones and would-be relationships.

I was a lonely over-achiever afraid to fail. As a recovering perfectionist, I know all too well the harsh truth of failure avoidance. By expecting too much of myself: I was never happy with my performance. Ultimately it took a harsh wake-up call to pivot my perspective!

“The increase of suicides, alcoholics and … nervous breakdowns is evidence that people are training for success when they should be training for failure.” 

– J. Wallace Hamilton

Failure Avoidance

Failure is often misunderstood. By nature, humans focus on the negative over positive results. We can take one bad experience and make it a permanent personal brand! In life, the question is not if you will have challenges – it’s how you are going to deal with those challenges when they happen!

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.” 

– John Maxwell

We are so afraid of failure that we allow it to overcome our desire to achieve. The harsh truth is that there is no achievement without failure! It’s critical to have the bigger picture in mind. The only way to succeed is to persevere through life’s ups and downs. You are the only person that can really label what you do as a failure. Failure is not objective.

Biggest Gains Come From Failure

I have found that the best lessons in life come from failure. We learned to walk by falling. We learn through failure and that is perfectly normal. Was the best golf player instantly a Pro the very first time they played the game? Of course not! No one becomes great at something once. It typically takes repetition, practice, understanding, and preparation.

Trial and error is often the best way to find true breakthroughs. This is true in science and in innovation. The biggest gains often come from failed experiences. It’s important to realize that any high achiever doesn’t see a mistake as the enemy. High achievers have a desire to be teachable.

“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we at the same time give ourselves permission to excel” 

– Eloise Ristad

Overcome Your Obsession with Failure

Failing at doing something is radically different than being a failure. Be careful what story you tell yourself. Adjusting your perspective on failure is the key differentiator between being an average or becoming an achiever.

  1. Failure is Unavoidable: Because we are humans, we will make mistakes. The more we resist learning the lessons from our mistakes, the more often the challenge is repeated.
  2. Proper Perspective: People who are achievers see errors or negative experiences as a regular part of life, learn from them, and move on.
  3. Success is not a Destination: it’s a journey we take. Whether you succeed or not depends entirely on what you do day to day. Every day is an investment in your future.
  4. Success is a Process: and so is failure. If you got an F on a test in school, it’s likely because you ignored the process of studying and preparing. Success is the process of learning from the journey of life and investing wisely in ourselves.

Accept the Process to Achievement

You can overcome an obsession with failure when you accept that failure is a necessary process to achievement. The fear of making mistakes constantly constrains smart professionals from taking advantage of great opportunities. The most successful people find what they are best at by making mistakes! We will excel only when we separate ourselves from the self-imposed stigma of ‘failure’ and allow space for mistakes. All true innovation happens outside of your comfort zone.

Make every day your masterpiece!

Originally published at www.uppsolutions.net


  • Erin Urban

    Career growth & leadership development coach, author and speaker focused on lifting others up into powerful positive transformations.

    Erin Urban, LSSBB, is a certified professional development coach, speaker, and author with a mission to inspire powerful positive transformations. With an extensive background in leading individual, cultural and organizational change initiatives: Erin is a certified leadership development coach, Forbes Contributor, and founder of UPPSolutions, LLC. For more information, visit uppsolutions.net and connect with Erin on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.