Shift Your Mindset: Adopt a growth mindset by recognizing that failure is not a reflection of your worth but an opportunity for learning and growth. Embrace the idea that setbacks are a natural part of life’s journey.
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 J. Edwards Holt.
J. Edwards Holt is a bestselling and award winning author from the United States. He is most commonly known for his works of fiction, which are often described as timeless tales of wonder and magic with messages relevant to the modern world. He published his first book in 2017 and since has gone on to produce a total of 12 works of fiction in a connected universe.
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’?
Of course. I’ll start off by introducing myself. I’m J. Edwards Holt and I’m an author of fantasy fiction, mostly young adult but I do have a children’s book as well. Aside from writing fantasy, I also write in the religious genre and I write regularly for a health and wellness magazine.
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?
When I got ready to publish my first book, I knew very little about the publishing industry and I was quick to sign a contract with the first publisher that agreed to take on my book. After a difficult several months of working with the publisher, they vanished before the process was complete, leaving myself and hundreds of other prospective authors high and dry. This was an eye opening experience for me, and it taught me a lot about the ins and outs of the industry, as well how to self publish.
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 think determination is a very important character trait when pursuing any career or dream. Writing a book, and especially writing multiple books, is quite the challenge. Without the intense determination to tell my stories, I never would have been able to do it.
Patience is another necessary character trait for someone in the writing industry. Often, as creatives, we come up with an idea that we fall in love with, and there’s a part of us that wants to see it realized immediately. But executing an idea properly takes a lot of time and patience — something that you have to have to succeed in the world of writing.
Confidence is another important trait for all trades, I believe. Certainly you don’t want to be overconfident, but you want to have a level of confidence that shows your readers/customers that your product is worth notable and worth buying.
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?
People are often afraid of failure for several reasons:
1. Social Pressure: Society often places a high value on success, and there can be significant social pressure to achieve. Failing can feel like a public acknowledgment that we haven’t met these expectations, leading to embarrassment or shame.
2. Self-esteem: Failure can dent our self-esteem and self-worth. Many people tie their self-worth closely to their achievements, so when they fail, it can feel like a personal rejection.
3. Fear of Judgment: We fear how others will perceive us if we fail. This fear of judgment can lead to avoidance behavior as we try to protect our image and reputation.
4. Loss Aversion: Psychologically, humans tend to weigh potential losses more heavily than equivalent gains. Failing often involves perceived losses — of time, effort, resources, or opportunities — and this can make failure seem particularly daunting.
5. Unknown Outcomes: Failure often carries uncertainty about what comes next. This fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, as people prefer the comfort of predictability.
6. Perfectionism: Some individuals have perfectionist tendencies, setting impossibly high standards for themselves. They fear failure because it signifies falling short of these unattainable ideals.
7. Previous Trauma: Past experiences of failure, especially those accompanied by significant emotional distress, can create lasting fear and avoidance behavior.
The fear of failure is complex and rooted in social, psychological, and emotional factors. It’s a natural human response, but understanding these underlying reasons can help individuals manage and overcome this fear more effectively.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Being afraid of failure can have several downsides. Firstly, it can hinder personal growth and development because people may avoid taking risks or trying new things out of fear of failing. This can lead to missed opportunities for learning and self-improvement.
Secondly, the fear of failure can create anxiety and stress, as individuals constantly worry about making mistakes or not meeting their own or others’ expectations. This can have negative effects on mental and physical health.
Additionally, it can limit creativity and innovation. When people are too afraid of failure, they may stick to what they know works, avoiding experimentation and potentially groundbreaking ideas.
Lastly, it can impede career progression. Those who are overly cautious about failing may avoid pursuing challenging opportunities or promotions, leading to stagnation in their professional lives.
To overcome these limitations, individuals should embrace a growth mindset, viewing failures as opportunities to learn and grow. They can also set realistic expectations, develop resilience, and seek support from mentors or peers to help mitigate the fear of failure.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
Certainly! Overcoming the fear of failure can significantly enhance our lives in several ways:
1. Increased Confidence: When we’re not held back by the fear of failure, our self-confidence can soar. This newfound confidence empowers us to take on challenges and pursue our goals with conviction.
2. Embracing Opportunities: Without the fear of failure holding us back, we’re more likely to seize new opportunities. This openness to trying new things can lead to exciting experiences and personal growth.
3. Innovation and Creativity: Freedom from the fear of failure fosters innovation and creativity. We’re more willing to explore unconventional ideas and approaches, potentially leading to groundbreaking solutions and discoveries.
4. Resilience: People who are unafraid of failure tend to be more resilient. They bounce back quickly from setbacks and view failures as valuable learning experiences, which can help them persevere through challenges.
5. Improved Relationships: Fear of failure can create stress and anxiety that spills over into our relationships. By letting go of this fear, we can enjoy healthier, more relaxed interactions with others.
6. Professional Advancement: In the workplace, those who aren’t paralyzed by the fear of failure are often more likely to take on leadership roles, pursue promotions, and excel in their careers.
7. Personal Fulfillment: Ultimately, overcoming the fear of failure allows us to lead a more fulfilling life. We can pursue our passions, follow our dreams, and live authentically, knowing that failures are just stepping stones toward success.
In essence, freeing ourselves from the fear of failure empowers us to lead more fulfilling, dynamic, and successful lives by embracing challenges and viewing setbacks as opportunities for growth.
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’d say I’ve dealt with failure at several different points in my lifetime, but the only one I can recall related to writing would be back when I had the idea to write my first book, but no idea what it was going to be about or any kind of real foundation to base it on. I spent a lot of time starting stories that never ended up going anywhere and just left me feeling empty and unfulfilled. There were a few times when i was sure I wasn’t going to be able to come up with the right idea — much less write a book.
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?
I spent a lot of time planning and brainstorming, and I just had a determination that I was going to come up with that idea and write that first book no matter what. It was a good lesson for me — and really for all aspiring authors that sometimes, even when you just can’t seem to write anything good, you need to go back to the table, get your pen and try it again.
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.
Here are five steps that anyone can take to become free from the fear of failure:
1. Shift Your Mindset: Adopt a growth mindset by recognizing that failure is not a reflection of your worth but an opportunity for learning and growth. Embrace the idea that setbacks are a natural part of life’s journey.
2. Set Realistic Goals: Break down your larger goals into smaller, achievable steps. This makes your objectives less daunting and reduces the fear of failing to reach them.
3. Learn from Failure: When you encounter setbacks, analyze what went wrong and what you can learn from the experience. Use failures as valuable feedback to improve and make better choices in the future.
4. Challenge Negative Thoughts: Practice self-compassion and challenge negative self-talk. Replace thoughts like “I can’t do this” with “I can learn and improve.” Building self-confidence is crucial in overcoming the fear of failure.
5. Take Action: The most effective way to conquer the fear of failure is to face it head-on. Start by taking small risks and gradually work your way up to bigger challenges. Each success, no matter how small, will boost your confidence and reduce fear.
Remember, becoming free from the fear of failure is a process that takes time and effort. It’s about building resilience, self-compassion, and a positive outlook on setbacks. With persistence and a willingness to learn from your experiences, you can overcome this fear and thrive in various aspects of your life.
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?
Aristotle’s quote, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way,” underscores a fundamental concept in his philosophy. In this quote, he is likely referring to the idea that there are numerous paths to failure, each characterized by different mistakes, errors, or shortcomings. Failure can result from a variety of factors, choices, or actions, making it a multifaceted concept.
On the other hand, Aristotle suggests that success is singular in nature. It implies achieving a specific outcome or goal. Success is a state that is typically reached through a specific set of actions or qualities, which Aristotle might argue are guided by virtue, wisdom, or excellence.
Essentially, Aristotle is emphasizing that failure can take many forms, encompassing a wide range of errors and shortcomings. Success, on the other hand, often follows a more singular and well-defined path, with certain principles or virtues leading to the desired outcome. This quote underscores the complexity of failure and the importance of a well-considered approach to achieving success.
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. 🙂
I would like to do something that would promote literacy and a love for reading worldwide, with a particular emphasis on underprivileged communities and regions with low literacy rates. Something that seeks to break down barriers to literacy, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to read, learn, and grow. Such a movement would have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people and promote a more educated and inclusive society.
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 🙂
Well, I mean what writer wouldn’t want to sit down with one of the greatest of our trade, Stephen King? It would be amazing, to me, just to be able to meet him… to talk, maybe get some feedback from him, and hear sage advice face to face from someone so successful.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can always do a Google search for J. Edwards Holt or visit my website: www.jedwardsholt.com to learn more about me. Information about and links to my books can be found on my website, and my books are available with most book retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and more. I have several books on the market (hopefully with more on the way) and I believe there’s something in the J. Edwards Holt catalogue for everyone to enjoy! I love talking about my books and telling my story to inspire others, so if anyone reading is interested in interviewing or featuring me in any kind of media they can email me at [email protected].
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.