Find an advocate that will both cheer you on when you take a scary step and hold you accountable to take the step. Someone else that is working on the same thing can be great because you understand what each other is going through and can really appreciate each other’s successes.

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 Beth Klein, LMFT.

Beth Klein is a licensed mental health therapist specializing in helping young professional women break through what is holding them back so that they can bring their lives back into alignment with their purpose, passions, and values. She sees people in person in her office in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and works virtually with people residing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Carolina. To find out more about her practice go to

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 went into the IT field because a lot of exciting things were happening in that field when I was in college and I wanted to be part of it. However, after a few years, I discovered that I was much more interested in how people felt than how the project was going. When I reached a point in my life where it made sense to make a career change, I started the training to become a therapist. During my internship and in the first few years of my new career, I sought out positions that would provide me with the most well-rounded training as my goal was to eventually open my own private practice. In 2018 I did just that. I moved to be closer to family and started my own practice in a new city!

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

When I started my private practice, all of my sessions were in person. At the time, there were some therapists that were doing virtual sessions and I planned to do it as well but was putting it off partly due to the fear of trying something new. Then in May of 2020, as we were heading towards a stay-at-home order due to Covid-19, I realized that the only way my clients would be able to continue to see me was to offer virtual sessions. I was now challenged with facing that fear or giving up my practice. I chose the former. As I started to figure it out, I was amazed at how therapists from around the country helped each other get their sessions online. Experts provided free training, associations posted templates, and Facebook groups were abuzz with advice on how to bill for online sessions, engage kids through virtual sessions, etc. Most of this occurred over the course of a week and by the end of the weekend before quarantine, my colleagues and I were ready to continue providing care for our clients in a new and foreign way. Our clients also rose to the occasion as they faced having to use technology in an entirely new way.

My takeaways from this experience are:

  • Whatever I am experiencing, I am likely not alone and if I reach out, I will find someone willing and able to help.
  • When we are united for a cause, we as humans can “move mountains”.
  • When I am under pressure, I don’t have time to stay in fear and avoid it, I just need to accomplish the task.
  • Accomplishing difficult things makes me more confident to face the next difficult thing.

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?

The three character traits that I think were the most instrumental to my success are:

  1. Not giving up on the goals I set for myself. During the long and difficult process of becoming a therapist, there were many times when it became very hard and I could have easily given up and stayed in my current career. When this happened, I would revisit my reason for making the change and then decide that this difficulty was temporary and I just needed to get over “the hump”.
  2. The ability to be vulnerable with others about my struggles. I have always had at least one co-worker whom I could be open and honest with so that when things got hard, I could tell them how I was feeling and get encouragement and advice. This in turn would help them feel comfortable being vulnerable with me about their own struggles. This allowed us to develop a system of mutual support and encouragement.
  3. My willingness to try new things. In my IT career, things moved very quickly because new technology was always being developed. This meant that there were frequent opportunities to learn a new skill. On several occasions, I volunteered to learn a new skill, which made me more valuable to my boss and helped out my team a great deal. In my new career, I carry on this spirit by learning new state-of-the-art therapies to help my clients and fellow clinicians.

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?

I believe that people are afraid of failure because they focus more on the feeling of disappointment that they will experience if they fail than the lesson they will learn as a result of failure. It is normal to feel disappointed when we make mistakes and growth requires us to try things and learn from them. So, we all need to develop a tolerance for the feeling of disappointment. In addition, when people fail, they are often shamed by society, parents, bosses, etc. This adds a feeling of shame to the mix. So now when someone faces taking a step where success is not 100% guaranteed, they anticipate that they may end up feeling disappointed and ashamed. People also often inaccurately predict that their resulting feelings will last forever and will never go away. This intense anticipatory fear then blocks out supportive beliefs such as “failure is a good lesson-teacher”, “people will respect them for trying”, etc.

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

Being afraid of failure causes people to not try things that they may enjoy, value, or be good at. This results in them feeling less content with their lives, which often leads to depression, substance abuse, and/or anger management issues. Now imagine that this person has children. They are not able to be the best parent they could be and may pass the fear of failure down to their children, creating generations of people that are stuck in fear. And, because the person did not discover what they were good at, society misses out on the potential of that person’s contribution based on their unique and individual strengths. Imagine if some of the influential people in our history such as Benjamin Franklin allowed the fear of failure to stop them. We would be much less further along than we are now!

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

Becoming free from failure provides a sense of freedom to try new things without knowing whether you will be good at them or not. When a person tries new things, they learn from them regardless of whether or not they fail. Actually, they learn more when they fail because the feeling of disappointment often turns into determination to do better next time. This causes the person to seek feedback on how to do it better. So now they just learned from others. Then, as they continue this cycle, they gain knowledge in all of the things they try and move closer to finding success. If the person is a teacher, parent, coach, big sister, or some other person of influence, they are then passing this knowledge onto others, propelling them further forward as well. Society now benefits as a whole.

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?

When I started to take my licensing exam, I noticed that the font on the screen was uncomfortably small. This added to the fear I already had, which was failing to finish the exam in the allotted timeframe. Instead of calming myself down and taking the exam with the small screen, I spoke with the facilitator about increasing the screen size. They made an attempt to fix it but after a few attempts, it was apparent that it was not going to happen. With all the time that had elapsed, I was even more nervous so I made the decision to reschedule to another date. This caused me to have to go through the lengthy process of rescheduling and to feel even more anxious in anticipation of doing it again. In retrospect, I wished I would have just accepted the screen size and attempted to take the test.

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?

After this failure in taking the exam, I was afraid to take it again. However, I knew that if I did not take the exam again, I would not get my license. So, I shared my mishap with trusting friends, took some time off to move past the feelings of disappointment and shame, scheduled the next exam, and started to study again. This time, I practiced answering questions through a small screen so that I could tolerate taking the test that way. I then took the test and passed. What joy I felt when I found out that I passed!

From this experience, I learned that it is ok to make a bad decision and fail. I just need to take time to recover from the bad feelings, learn from my mistake, and try again.

My advice to people is to take some time after you make the mistake to nurture yourself. Then, prepare to do it again with improvements based on what you learned from your mistake. Then do 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 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure:

  1. Find an advocate that will both cheer you on when you take a scary step and hold you accountable to take the step. Someone else that is working on the same thing can be great because you understand what each other is going through and can really appreciate each other’s successes.
  2. Spend time thinking about what you truly value in all areas of your life, such as friendships, family, career, parenting, health, community, spirituality, and leisure. Keeping these values at the forefront of your mind will provide you with the incentive to try scary new things. One way to get in touch with your values is for each of these categories, ask yourself this question and write down the answer: “Imagine that you are at the end of your life and reflecting back on it. What would make you feel really proud of how you showed up in this area of your life?”
  3. Learn to tolerate your negative feelings so they do not seem so scary. Try this: When you have a negative feeling, identify where you feel it in your body and sit with it to really notice what it feels like. The reason for connecting to your body is because the way a feeling manifests in our bodies is actually the thing that we can’t tolerate, not the feeling itself. i.e. it’s the tightness in your chest, the pressure in your head, or the butterflies in the stomach that feel awful. Tell yourself that it’s just a feeling and nothing more. Notice that it eventually goes away.
  4. Make a list of steps you would take if you knew you would not fail. Rate these from lowest to highest in terms of what you value and how scary it would be to do. Then do the easiest one that you value the most. If you fail at it, notice where you feel it in your body and notice that it goes away. Then, do the next thing on the list.
  5. Celebrate each time you take a step, whether you succeeded or not. Feel the good feeling of acting in line with your values. Celebrate by telling a friend or doing something you enjoy such as going out for ice cream, taking a hot bath, or playing your favorite video game.

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? ,

I love this quote and agree wholeheartedly. How I interpret it is that the only way to be successful is to make an attempt at it. You can’t succeed by just thinking about it or avoiding it. For example, you can only be successful at hitting the bullseye if you throw the dart. You may not succeed the first time but the only way to succeed is to try again…and again. However, failure occurs if you don’t even try to do it if you try and fail and if you don’t try again after you fail. Thus, lots of ways to fail and only one way to succeed!

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. 🙂

A movement I would like to inspire is for people to not make assumptions about other people based on limited information. If they don’t understand another person’s actions, it would be great if they could do one of two things: (1) give them the benefit of the doubt and let it go, or (2) ask them what their actions mean so they fully understand them. I believe this would build the culture of acceptance and understanding that we need in order to create a better world.

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 would love to meet with Hillary Clinton because she is a woman who made it quite far in breaking through patriarchal barriers to get as far as she did in her career. I specialize in helping young women break through what is holding them back to become the person that they want to be and I would like to learn from Hillary in order to help my clients. I would love for my clients to learn to be able to go even further than Hillary did.

How can our readers further follow your work online?





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.