Be Brave. Don’t let Impostor Syndrome get the better of you. Channel it to put your best foot forward. Challenge your self-doubt and see what results you get. If you don’t succeed at first, don’t take it personally.

The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Aruna Krishnan.

Aruna Krishnan is a Management Consultant and Best Selling Author. Her interest in mindfulness coupled with her experience leading Information Technology teams has led her to write books that demonstrate new and simple ways of thinking about age-old problems. She is an advocate for Mental Health and Women’s Empowerment. Her main mission in life is to give people hope and help them find happiness through a process of self-discovery.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I started my career as a Software Engineer in Milwaukee, WI. Over the years, I’ve traversed many roles within the Technology field from Engineer to Project Manager to Product Manager.

During my career span, I’ve evolved quite a bit as a person. Up until ten years ago, my self-doubt and lack of agency made me lose out on many opportunities. Fear of failure was a big impediment for me. It took a lot of self-discovery and course correction to rectify some of those old habits and behaviors. This personal transformation is what inspired me to write self-help books on personal development, mindset change, and leadership.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Early in my career, I experienced an identity crisis. Being an Indian who recently moved from Africa, I struggled to find people with the same background. I felt a little out of place. Luckily, I had a very nice team. They made me feel welcome. They were very friendly and inclusive.

They introduced me to Green Bay Packers games, brats, and beer gardens. In return, I told them about my experiences in Africa and the cultural shift I was dealing with. A lot of the team hadn’t traveled to Africa … or India so they were excited to learn about life outside of Wisconsin. We had potlucks that featured food from our heritages which helped us further learn about each other. I realized that my team accepted me for who I was. That gave me a sense of comfort and dissipated doubts about whether I belonged there.

Although I am yet to meet an Indian from Africa in my place of work, I have become comfortable with my identity. I am who I am and that’s the value I bring to an organization. I see it as an opportunity to bring a different perspective to any discussion. The key to gaining clarity on my identity was viewing my uniqueness as an asset rather than a liability.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I’ve always admired leaders that carried themselves with poise. It intrigued me that they garnered respect and led teams successfully. This approach has always resonated with me. I could never appreciate aggressive, cut-throat strategies because I prioritized the human element above all.

As I grew into leadership roles, my natural ability to listen, build relationships, and empathize with my teams made me effective. Some of these traits that have helped me thrive as a leader:

  • Emotional Intelligence — Healthy relationships are a catalyst for team success. Being able to listen to others and gauge what they need enables us to support them better. The ability to be in control of our thoughts and emotions is very helpful when we have to manage conflict within our team or with our customers.
  • Positivity — Having a positive outlook and establishing psychological safety sets a healthy ambiance for team dynamics. This increases morale, promotes collaboration, and produces high-functioning teams.
  • Humility — I can admit that I don’t have all the answers. Knowing my strengths and knowing when to leverage my team’s talents has helped me execute organizational strategies more efficiently. Empowering teams to weigh in as subject matter experts allows us to focus on our strengths as leaders i.e. driving the company vision, being a mentor, setting goals for the team, and providing them with growth opportunities.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?

The fear of failure starts from a very young age. It is inculcated in children starting in elementary school. The grading system of A, B, C, D, and F indicates that F a.k.a. Failure is bad and means that you can’t advance to the next class. This narrative is further compounded by parents’ responses to such grades. An A is celebrated and an F is a cause for concern. I understand there has to be some way to evaluate student performance but this method associates failure with terrible consequences. There is no indication that failure has a correction path.

What if we eliminated the F grade? What if we chose to call it “E” for Enablement and put a plan in place to get the child to a passing grade? That would dispel the myth that one cannot recover from failure. It would reduce the shame that is tied to an F grade. It would send a message that hard work (and support) is what gets you success. The existing attitude toward failure in the K-12 years creates an impression that is hard for a child to shake off … even when they reach adulthood. As a result, people stay within their comfort zones to avoid the potential humiliation of a “failed” venture.

What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?

Fear results in avoidance. Fear of failure prevents us from uncovering our true potential, so we second-guess our abilities and self-worth. Its debilitating nature prevents us from both discovering and showcasing our talent.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?

When there’s no fear, the possibilities are limitless. We are more willing to invest in ourselves. We learn, create, and

innovate. This gives us room to make mistakes, improve, and try again until we reach our desired outcomes. The intrinsic reward from those wins contributes to a more content life.

We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?

I have had many occurrences of failure. Whether it was looking for a job after a layoff, making a case for why I deserve a promotion or struggling to master the art of parenting.

We often feel helpless, hopeless, and dejected. To recover, we need to reframe how we conceptualize failure. In all the examples above, there was a chance for re-evaluation, change, and introspection. What could I have done better? Who can support me? Where do I go from here? The answers to those questions guided my next steps.

Failure is not the end of a journey. It is merely a checkpoint where we can make minor adjustments and try again. This principle applies to all types of perceived failure. Job searches, career advancement, parenting, and so much more.

How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?

Once I got over the initial feelings of disappointment and regret, I took some time to regroup and formed a plan of action. I had to understand what I could do differently and commit to small and incremental changes. The act of committing to something helped me shift my focus from the past to the present.

We are often our worst critics! We should avoid dwelling on our mistakes and favor a problem-solving mindset to make sure we don’t fall victim to our negative self-talk.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.

To successfully overcome the fear of failure, you have to do a few things:

  1. Acknowledge Your Fear. Sometimes we don’t understand why we are hesitant to do things. We recognize the element of fear but not specifically the fear of failure. By tuning into that, we can start to eradicate this barrier.
  2. Redefine “Failure.” By looking at so-called failure as a step in the right direction, we remove the self-imposed burden of achieving perfection on the first try. Instead, we can view failure as a milestone on an iterative path to success. It makes us stop, rethink our needs, and pivot if necessary.
  3. Capture What You Learn. With every experience that doesn’t go as per plan, it’s helpful to capture the lessons learned. This helps us analyze the problems encountered and gives us a starting point for improvement.
  4. Define a Plan B. At some point in your life, you will face failure. The magnitude of each failure will vary. The best way to prepare for this is to have a Plan B in place. Sometimes we can prepare it in anticipation of things going wrong (like a safety net) and sometimes it’s a plan we have to come up with on the fly. In both cases, it gives us some structure to move forward.
  5. Be Brave. Don’t let Impostor Syndrome get the better of you. Channel it to put your best foot forward. Challenge your self-doubt and see what results you get. If you don’t succeed at first, don’t take it personally and continue to push on using Steps 3 and 4 above.

The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?

We can definitely fail in many ways but because we have the power to define our criteria for success, which aren’t meant to be static, we can celebrate many forms of success.

My interpretation of Aristotle’s quote is that success can only be achieved with dedicated effort. In contrast, failure can be achieved with or without any effort. In the end, it is our willpower and persistence that gets us the success we desire.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂


Developing empathy requires us to better ourselves.

Receiving empathy makes us feel better.

Showing empathy helps others feel better.

Paying empathy forward makes for a better world.

The world needs more empathy. Starting in our own homes. Starting within ourselves.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I’d love to meet a leader in any Media or Production company … big or small. I would love to learn about opportunities in that space, share some ideas, and understand how I can extend my career as an author in that realm.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can follow me on LinkedIn

They can also find my books on Amazon at Aruna Krishnan’s Author Profile

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.