Examine worst-case outcomes — The importance is to examine, but not dwell on, these situations. It is important to be aware that you might fail, but the key is to not let that influence your ability to act. By acknowledging the ways that things might go wrong, you can more easily create a blueprint that will lead to success.

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 Jon Zacharias.

Jon Zacharias is the Co-Founder of GR0, a focused, dedicated and committed digital marketing agency that will “GR0” your brand online. He has over a decade of experience working in organic SEO and his agency was named “Fastest Growing Company of the Year” by the American Business Awards.

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’?

After I completed my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I decided to pursue a law degree at the California Western School of Law in San Diego, CA. As a student there, I took a position with a local wage and hour class action law firm. That experience helped me develop not only my knowledge of judicial practice, but also taught me a lot about business and marketing. I quickly noticed how search engine optimization was ideal for driving client acquisition.

Not long after that, I became more interested in acquiring cases through the modern practice than actually litigating them. I then decided I wanted a career learning how to best utilize Google instead. Flash forward to today, and I know have my own digital marketing agency based in Los Angeles where I am fully realizing my potential.

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?

The most important part about my career, and life in general, was getting sober. In November 2016 I checked myself into a residential drug rehab center with the goal of getting my life back on track. Not only did the program do what it was intended to, but I met the co-founder of GR0, Kevin Miller, there. We immediately became best friends, talking every single second. It felt like my entire life shifted as soon as I met him. The takeaway from that is that sobriety, for both Kevin and myself, was the driving force behind the success of our business.

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?

Being a good listener — I believe active listening is super important, as well as being patient in all communication. It’s key to fully absorb what is being said to you so that you can respond as accurately as possible.

Being determined — Determination is a soft skill that is very difficult to teach. I believe that it is an innate quality. You have to keep pushing forward, always. What else is there? Quitting is the easy way out.

Practicing healthy habits — As a byproduct of my sobriety, I found myself going to bed, and waking up, earlier. I start each morning eager to jump into work mode because I generally feel upbeat due to having a healthy lifestyle.

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?

From an evolutionary standpoint, there were moments when failure meant death. If you messed something up, you would have to pay the ultimate price. So, perhaps humans are hard wired to fear failure. However, I feel that society plays a big role too. We are conditioned from a young age to believe that you always need to succeeding, and that failing will cause us to regress.

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

Immobility is the biggest downside of being afraid to fail. People become so frightened of making a mistake that they simply cannot do anything. They become unable to act. That can be incredibly limiting, both professionally and personally. At that point, are you really living?

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

To go off of my last response, by freeing yourself from failure, you are able to truly live your best life. You will take opportunities as they come up, because you will be existing in the moment. You will not be thinking into the future about what might go wrong, or dwell on something in the past that did go wrong. When we catch ourselves in those negative thoughts, we fail to focus on the present situation in front of us.

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?

As a kid, I was into skateboarding. I will say, I was not amazing at it, but I really enjoyed the process of being outdoors and seeing the world as a skateboard park. The thing about skateboarding is that it teaches you to embrace failure, because by failing you learn what you need to change in order to succeed. By making tiny adjustments, like putting your foot “here” instead of “there”, you are gradually getting closer to nailing the trick. The odds of you landing a trick are against you. You might have to try it for days, weeks, or months to finally be able to master it. But when you do, it is the best feeling in the world.

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 kept pushing forward, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could learn a particular trick. Another thing about skateboarding is that you will never truly master it completely. There is always another trick, or style of skating, to work towards. A lot of people would find that demotivating, but I enjoyed the challenge of it.

My advice is to just go for it! I think of the Wayne Gretzky quote, which was also popularized by Michael Scott in The Office, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” You have to be willing to fail in order to succeed.

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.

Look for outside help — This could mean reaching out to a friend or mentor, but could also be someone that you look up to. Reading about some of my idols in the sports or music worlds is always motivating for me. When I see some of the struggles that other people have overcome, my own fears do not seem as intimidating.

Self-evaluate — You need to check in on yourself. Do your best to make sure that you are not doing things that will contribute to greater feelings of fear. As I mentioned earlier, having a healthy lifestyle makes me feel like I am able to perform better, with more confidence and a lack of fear.

Set goals — By setting small, attainable steps, large tasks will seem less daunting. By chipping away at it incrementally, you will feel productive in that process. By feeling good, you will be less inclined to focus on the fear of failing.

Think positively — I have always been a big proponent of having a positive mental attitude. That was instilled in me at a young age by my father. Having a positive mindset is everything. By thinking positively, you will have no more mental capacity for thinking about fear.

Examine worst-case outcomes — The importance is to examine, but not dwell on, these situations. It is important to be aware that you might fail, but the key is to not let that influence your ability to act. By acknowledging the ways that things might go wrong, you can more easily create a blueprint that will lead to success.

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?

Based on my own experience, I like to think that there are many possible ways of reaching a goal; there is not only one set route. By thinking outside the box, you can approach a situation or challenge many different ways. I believe Aristotle’s quote is the opposite; I think he is saying that there is only one possible approach to success. I suppose I see things differently to him.

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 have always enjoyed the beach, and spending time in or near the water. If I could motivate the world to take better care of our oceans, I would. It would be amazing if beachgoers did more to prevent trash from being left behind and polluting the sand and water.

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 🙂

As I am a big sports fan, I think Phil Jackson would be an incredible person to sit down and have a meal with. The Zen Master. Talk about fear of failure! That man found himself in some incredibly tense moments in sport history.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can keep tabs on my agency here: https://gr0.com/. Additionally, my personal website can be found here: https://jonzacharias.com/

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.