Being free of the fear of failure I’m sure has some real-life health benefits, but I’m not a physician, I am however human and I have released some of my own fears and challenged enough of them to know that my mental state has improved significantly in the past 10 years. It could be because I am getting older and more stable in my own life but I like to think it’s also because I have moved to 3 different cities, changed careers twice and taken on new business ventures. Each of those decisions came with risks and failure was a part of those changes. But the people I have met, the clarity I have experienced and the confidence I’ve gained cannot be taken away are proof that becoming free of failure is one of the most freeing things that people can do for themselves, I am living proof!

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 Britt Hunter.

Brittany “Britt” Hunter is a former D1 athlete, coach, educator, and currently a business manager at Microsoft. Servant Leadership and a growth mindset are at the forefront of everything Britt does, from working with youth groups to advocating for voting rights and inspiring those around her to live a healthy lifestyle.

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’?

Sure, I am a native Ohioan but now reside in my seventh city — Atlanta! I like to think of myself as someone who has lived many different lives and I look forward to continually re-inventing myself! I am a former D1 basketball player, playing both at Duke and UConn (no I don’t have any championship rings 🙁).

I then took what I learned from great coaches and brought that into the classroom as a 4th grade teacher, Dean and Vice Principal in Harlem. After 7 years I decided to give corporate America a try and started at Microsoft after obtaining my MBA at Vanderbilt.

In all that time I have some things that remained the same: my love for sports, yoga, cycling, running, historical fiction and travel!

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?

One of the earlier moments in my career was by far the most impactful because it showed me who I am and it cemented my values. I was a recent graduate student in my final year at UConn and I was stuck with a dilemma of choosing between a District Manager position at Pepsi, and the role of a Dean of Students at Charter School. The Pepsi job would allow me to travel, be a part of a global brand and get the ball rolling on gaining more wealth! The other would require me to move to New York City, work with hundreds of students and their families and more than likely miss out on all the perks that a corporate American job would provide.

At 23, I made the decision to take the role of Dean of Students. My thinking was, if Pepsi is willing to hire me out of college with little to no work experience there is a good chance they would hire me 10 years from now as well. However, the Dean of Students position would be more impactful, I was convinced I would be challenged and stretched in ways that made me uncomfortable but more importantly it was a role that I would not be able to sustain after 10 years, my energy would deplete, so there was no better time than that moment to take on the role.

I learned to go with my gut! Joining the ranks of educators was the most challenging, rewarding and humbling experience of my life. I always reference my time in education and encourage other young people to take that road if they have even the slightest inkling of interest in that field.

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?

Hard Work — “Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard” — When I began playing basketball I was 13 and this was much much later than all the other girls I was going up against. I was your typical “garbage player,” meaning I didn’t do any of the fancy things, no behind the back dribbling, no crossovers, no fade-away jumpers. But I consistently hustled, rebounded, hit a reliable 15-ft jumper, and moved to the open spaces on the floor. All of these things took a LOT of time in the gym getting better. I usually found that I was the only female in the gym actually working out, not just playing. I also always played against boys and girls that were better than me, faster than me and more skilled. This is what made me the number one player in the nation coming out of high school. All of the time spent in the gym doing the same drills over and over again. I wasn’t the most talented player on the floor any given day but I most definitely was the most disciplined and worked the hardest.

Trust — “Ask 3 before you ask me” — One of my first managers was a female principal of a Harlem Public Charter school. Her name was Danique and she was a no-nonsense leader. She had her flaws but she also had a brilliant mindset about working with children and working as a team. As a leader she was very hands-off. She only got involved when she absolutely needed to because she wanted everyone to exercise independence and autonomy, within reason. She set a very high bar for excellence in her classrooms and an even higher one for her staff, and one rule she had was “ask 3 before you ask me.” This essentially meant, ask a teammate who can probably help you before running to her for guidance or decision making. I loved this rule because it made everyone rely on one another. We had to accept that sometimes we didn’t have the answer but that we could in fact figure it out without relying on our leader to guide us. I’m sure as a leader it gave her some space and clarity to think as well. I’m actually very sure it did because it’s a rule I later implemented with my own team when I became an administrator. However, there was a by-product of this rule; it showed my team that I trusted them to make decisions “without” me.

Vulnerability — I am often asked what is the most important thing to do when you start a new role and I always say the same thing, because I always do the same thing! I ask questions and let people know right away when I am not an expert at something. I think this is a critical skill but also vital to building transparency with those you work with. As a confident person it’s also refreshing for others to see that I admit when I don’t know something and that I am willing to learn or simply ask for help. It encourages others to do the same and it typically speeds up the process of working through challenges because those who are experts can take the lead and teach when appropriate.

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 most people are concerned with failure because they are more concerned with other people. This is especially true for me in many ways and is still something that I work hard to fight against. When we are trying something new there is a level of vulnerability involved because you bring people along your journey. Friends, peers, coworkers who feel close to you want to know “how it’s going,” they want to root for you and some want to live vicariously through you. All of it adds a layer of pressure that would otherwise not be there if you chose not to pursue something new and challenging.

There is a chance that you can succeed, in which case everyone will be enthusiastic but then there’s that other possibility where you don’t “succeed,” but in both scenarios everyone wants to know the details of your journey. When the outcome is positive — rehashing those small failures and speed bumps along the way is inconsequential, but when you did not complete your task victoriously, reliving those details can be devastating. The reality is that most people aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are but we naturally catastrophize things when we fail at something.

The silver lining that I have found is, when I talk to people who have lived long lives and are much more seasoned than I am, those stories of failure are the best ones! Those stories show so much about their character, it also shows that those people are still standing. Once we realize that failure is a natural path in life and embrace how it can shape us we can get excited about trying new things just to experience that failure to have our own stories to share.

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

Avoiding failure stunts our growth! I always think about my former 4th grade students. They were all so afraid of failing exams and quizzes or even getting things wrong in front of the classroom. However once I changed the narrative for them I saw exponential growth in many of them! I challenged my students to look at the school year as a marathon. There are small races (5K’s, 10K’s etc.) you need to run in the summer in order to qualify for the bigger marathon in the fall. I had them consider all of their quizzes and worksheets like those qualifying races in the summer. We would dig into the work and analyze their mistakes and try to relive what was happening inside of them when these mistakes occurred; what was their mindset, what decisions did they make and so on. It really helped them take away the emotion of the failure and helped them to focus on what they learned from the mistake so they could avoid it next time. The biggest challenge, however, wasn’t my students. It was the parents! I saw my student’s parents reacting and sometimes over-reacting to the grades students got on quizzes. I constantly had to remind the parents that these failures were a part of the journey, but sometimes working with a fixed mindset in one adult is harder than changing the minds of a classroom of students. Some of my students’ parents would unravel the mindset shifting we did in the classroom and get the students anxious all over again. I saw this impact how my students approached worksheets and quizzes for the rest of the year. Whereas most of my parents who were more trusting of the process, I saw those students thriving, confidently sharing what mistakes they made and what they had learned from their missteps.

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

Being free of the fear of failure I’m sure has some real-life health benefits, but I’m not a physician, I am however human and I have released some of my own fears and challenged enough of them to know that my mental state has improved significantly in the past 10 years. It could be because I am getting older and more stable in my own life but I like to think it’s also because I have moved to 3 different cities, changed careers twice and taken on new business ventures. Each of those decisions came with risks and failure was a part of those changes. But the people I have met, the clarity I have experienced and the confidence I’ve gained cannot be taken away are proof that becoming free of failure is one of the most freeing things that people can do for themselves, I am living proof!

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?

Sure! I share this story from time to time when talking to those who are interested in pivoting to a new career. When I was graduating from Uconn with my masters degree, I hadn’t started looking for jobs because I was certain I would go to business school. I had just taken a GRE to get into my recent masters program and while I got 10 points above the bare minimum, I got in nonetheless on my first attempt! How hard could the GMAT be?

Well, I got my answer. After 3 weeks of casually studying a math workbook for GMAT applicants, I walked into a testing site and sat down ready to wish right through the exam. I didn’t really know the format of the exam and haven’t taken any practice exams, not only because I was afraid of failing the practice exam but also because I didn’t have much time! I was hoping to apply in the 4th round of applications for business school, that’s how behind the ball I was.

I won’t get into too many details but let’s just say that after 5 questions, I took a “bathroom break” and never returned to that testing site. It was apparent within the first 10 minutes of sitting at that computer that I had no idea what I was doing, the questions could have been written in Portuguese and I might have had better luck! I got overwhelmed, panicked and decided maybe business school wasn’t for me. From that point on I had decided that I was not smart enough to take GMAT let alone attend business school. Of course this wasn’t true, I just had not properly prepared, but that failure stung so much that I couldn’t change the narrative I had in my head.

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?

7 years later I ended up taking the GMAT again. Still struggling though the exam, as I had to take it 5 times just to get a decent score, but I passed nonetheless, attended Vanderbilt University’ School of Business and the rest is history! Initially I didn’t recover from the first failure but I did mature in those 7 years and had made a plan on attending business school rather than just deciding on a whim.

I learned a lot about my tendencies and how those tendencies get in the way of me being successful. I can allow my ego take over or simply just throw caution to the wind with heavy expectations and this of course is a recipe for disaster, especially since another tendency I have is to weigh my identity based on my success and failure “score.” Ultimately I would tell people that what you put into things is what you will get out. Sometimes you will get lucky and barely try at something and end up victorious but that’s the exception not the rule!

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.

Pick a task — I decided to run the NYC Marathon in 2014, despite having a knee that was missing half of the meniscus, I was starved for a new challenge!

Make a Plan — Lucky for me in this case I was given a training plan, a schedule that told me how many miles to run each week and what to focus on. All in all, the training would take 5 months and hundreds of hours of running!

Find A Tribe — I began running alone with my perfectly curated Spotify playlists and really enjoyed taking in the scenery along the Westside Highway in Manhattan. However when I began to train for the longer runs (20, 22, and 24 miles) I found that I was lacking enthusiasm and wasn’t as interested in keeping my pace. It was when I began joining running clubs and meeting those who were veterans or novices to the marathon challenge, that I began to get re-invigorated with the challenge. It propelled me across the finish line for sure (pun intended!)

Make Adjustments as you go — I learned very quickly while training that summer that my usual routine of hanging out on Friday night with a beer here and there was NOT sustainable for someone training for a marathon. I found out very quickly that having even 1 drink the night before a long run made me very lethargic, it impacted my mood and made it much harder to wake up in the morning and get started. After 3 weeks of training, I decided to give up alcohol for the remainder of the summer and eat clean. I felt the difference immediately and was blown away by its impact.

Find Accountability — The whole time I was training for the marathon there were 3 distinct moments where I wanted to stop training. I was Over It! I was no longer motivated or had experienced a set-back; and I would have quit training, except I had raised $5,000 as a commitment to my charter school. I was too embarrassed to give people their money back. More importantly, I had told my class about the challenge. After school one day I invited the whole class along with their parents to go on a 5 mile run with me though Central Park. They didn’t all keep up but we completed it and that was the point! The amount of people I would have to notify that I was giving up weighed so heavily on me that the guilt overtook the desire to quit. Now in this case that guilt was a healthy dose, I wouldn’t apply that thinking to every aspect of my life but for the marathon it was very necessary!

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?

This is an interesting question and I threw the question to a few friends and we have talked about it at length so here is what I gathered from my own thinking and other people. Failure happens many many times across your life but success comes from learning from those failures. Sometimes we forget about the learning aspect of failures and we often rarely celebrate the learnings that we achieve. I am guilty of this and sometimes get wrapped up in “what’s next” but forget to consider the lessons I learned in the journey I was just on that led me to that 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 create a 30 day social media cleanse. I am not actively using social media outside of LinkedIn, but when I was using it I didn’t feel like I was in control anymore. My mind knew that these platforms were doing me a disservice but I didn’t feel strong enough to distance myself. I was constantly feeling anxious and I was uncharacteristically very critical of myself when posting, wondering to myself “is this a good enough post?” meanwhile it’s MY social media, the only person who matters is me! Either way, I have since removed myself from social media and I think children especially should take a 30-day cleanse and get back to in-person interactions!

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 recently just answered this hypothetical question about a week ago because of his recent prominence in the media. I would love to have breakfast with Disney CEO Bob Iger. Advocating for others is a huge personal core value of mine and Bob Iger has not only built an empire, made incredible acquisitions and adapted to changing media demands in his tenure but he has exemplified what advocating for others looks like. In a divisive culture it’s much easier to stay silent on certain issues but it takes courage to stand up for what’s right. His ability to put his employees first and stay true to the Disney mission of being a magical place for everyONE is truly inspirational and aspirational.

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.