Celebrate all your achievements, especially the little ones

And finally, celebrate every small step you take.

When you start to take notice on what you’ve done, instead of focusing on what you haven’t done, you’ll start to feel like you’re working towards your goals. You’ll feel more confident, more in control and more excited to start pushing yourself more and more.

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 Rachel Boswell.

Rachel is a certified ACC ICF Coach & Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming who helps Business Leaders, Employed Professionals and Entrepreneurs who are struggling with anxiety, a lack of confidence and overwhelm in their work, to discover their way of reaching their ambitious goals without sacrificing their life or who they are.

Since 2017 Rachel has consistently helped people to connect to feeling more calm, confident and in control of their life, so they can be more ambitious about creating success in their career or business without burning out.

For more information and to contact Rachel, visit www.rachel-boswell.com

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!

So hi, I’m Rachel. I’m a nature loving, calm living enthusiast, a dog mum, roast dinner addict, and a coach & NLP Practitioner who’s obsessed with helping others create calm lives & professional success after struggling with self belief and emotional overwhelm.

Following a career shift from Accounting to Coaching in 2017, my passion and mission has been to help people who have struggled their whole lives, to start believing in themselves and feel confident and capable of creating the life they’ve always wanted.

So many people struggle in life because of societal pressures to be a bold and outgoing professional, when some of us are a naturally more quiet and sensitive. That’s because around 20% of the population are what’s termed as Highly Sensitive people (HSP), which means we have a more sensitive nervous system. This doesn’t mean professional success isn’t in reach for us, it just means some people need to approach their success in a different way.

The traits of a HSP mean we process the world more deeply, get overstimulated quickly, have deep empathy with others and experience an increase in sensory input. Because of this HSPs are more prone to experiencing overwhelm, confidence issues and fear of failure. But due to something called Vantage Sensitivity, people who have been struggling, and begin to work with their strengths and traits as a HSP, can become a key asset in any business and can actually become more successful than others because of some of the key traits of being Highly Sensitive.

I am an introvert, highly sensitive and very creative. I need lots of calm alone time by managing my boundaries, and by doing this allows me to be as ambitious as I like. But this wasn’t the case when I was growing up. I felt I had to push away who I was and be more of an outgoing person. To be the bold and outgoing professional like other successful people, and living like this made me experience anxiety and low self-esteem for more than 30 years.

For me, all of these challenges where the leading cause of my own fear of failure, due to fearing disappointing others, being judged or looking like I wasn’t capable.

Since I discovered coaching and worked through my own challenges, I’ve now found my passion and purpose about understanding human behaviour to help people navigate past emotional overwhelm and self-doubt. In fact, its weird how my true potential has always been there waiting for me to realise it. Its as though I was meant to go through a world of pain to learn exactly what I was meant to do. That my personal struggles through life where meant to happen, so I could use what I leant about me, to help other people.

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?

I think the most interesting part of my journey has been the shift from living a life of fear, personal limitation and anxiety, to feeling in control of my own success and loving every moment of working towards and achieving the things that make my life fulfilled.

Because when I was working in Accounting, I was stressed, anxious and felt paranoid that I was going to fail and people would judge and reject me. I put so much expectation on myself, compared myself to others, felt like an imposter and would use other peoples success as confirmation that I wasn’t good enough.

I always wondered why someone else could cope in full time work and advance their profession whilst at the same time enjoying their life and I couldn’t even cope in my 9–5. It was like I felt I needed to prove myself every day to try and get some form of recognition, and it was exhausting!

That part of my life reached a point of no return. I had a nervous breakdown and ended up needing time off work to deal with my mental health. During that time I was introduced to coaching by a friend, and it not only helped me discover the fact that I was in control of what was going on all along, but I was also in control of my future too.

I had spent all my life following the same pattern: I must prove myself, but I can’t show failure; I must be accepted and be as good as other, but can’t let people know I doubt myself; I must show that I’m good enough, but know I’m not good enough. And living that life of internal conflict was the driving force behind my burnout.

When I started to apply what I was learning in my coaching to my life and work, everything started to shift. I became more confident in my job, felt in control of navigating mistakes and developing myself instead of berating myself.

I pushed myself in positive ways, contributed more in work projects, stepped into leadership and even started studying coaching along side my full time job.

Finally I felt it wasn’t about confirming my limitations, but seeing myself as human. Doing that has allowed me to feel confident to follow my own path of success, and launch and become a leader in my own business.

What I learnt is there is a version of me that can cope with being ambitious. Its taken lots of self discovery and personal development to find her, but when you start to take action and see the changes you can make to your own life, the possibilities really are endless!

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 strongly believe that fear can not survive during creativity. When you’re in a creative & optimistic mindset, you lead with curiosity. And to be curious, you have to believe that things can work or fail in equal measure.

I think regardless of whether you’re a CEO, manager, an entry level administrator, or Entrepreneur. Creativity has a massive part to play in not just effectively navigating challenges in any business, but in personal development too.

This was the case for one of my clients who worked as an NHS team leader and was struggling to manage her anxiety at work. She didn’t feel capable or confident to lead her new team. In fact the thing holding her back was a fear of failure because she felt she needed to prove herself.

We chatted about what strategies she was using to bring the team together and her main goal was to motivate everyone to create a cohesive working environment.

It was important to her to create a cohesive working environment where everyone felt motivated to get involved in organizing the department. But felt things needed to become more fun and lighthearted to help with managing stress within a high demand industry.

One of her many strengths was to get creative with her kids and work out cool projects with them at home. She transferred this concept into her leadership style and the team not only worked together on getting tasks organized, they developed connection and working relationships by pulling on each others strengths and individual creativity.

They now use fun and creative ways to organize their work environment, which not only keeps things fun, it helps to reduce down the stress that so many busy and demanding work environments experience.

Effective communication & trust

One question I ask within leadership coaching is “what qualities to you feel reflect a bad leader?”. And every time people say — micro management.

I learnt about people-orientated leadership from the receiving end. Which so many people unfortunately do. When I was back in my accounting career, I remember being called into my managers office and being told off in a very derogatory fashion about something that should have been approach from a professional development perspective. As he stood looming over me, I sat feeling very small and immediately lost trust & autonomy, not to mention my motivation for my work.

People learn at different rates and just because one person knows something, doesn’t mean another person does. Its all about respecting another persons model of the world and being a leader by coaching them to grow and develop with confidence and autonomy. Not to mention ensuring motivation is maintained.


Following on from my last point, I think it is imperative to understand what impacts an individual’s personal leadership style and taking time to develop leadership skills. As I mentioned before, all people develop, and to reduce down stress and pressure within performance, it is important to view ourselves from a growth mindset.

I believe that what drove my old boss to talk to me like that didn’t have anything to do with me. He hadn’t been like that before and wasn’t actually like that again. That isolated event reflected that there could have been something else going on in his life.

We can all unknowingly express ourselves in negative ways, but through maintaining conscious awareness of personal stresses and managing emotional overwhelm, it can help to ensure that the people we lead don’t become the recipient of something personal.

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?

Failure is frightening to us because it is the one thing that can confirm our deepest fears. The fears that so many people try and hide from others. “I’m not good enough”. “I’m not competent enough”. “I don’t know enough”.

The fear felt by the potential of failing is due to the mind and body trying to protect you from something much more harmful. “What will happen ‘if’ I fail”.

This could be something that relates to feeling shame, disappointing someone, looking incapable, being ostracized, judged or even rejected. And navigating this on pursuit of personal goals can really hold someone back and impact their personal confidence and self-belief.

The first thing to tell us that something is wrong is our emotions. Fear of failure is an emotional and physiological response that’s triggered by something more deep rooted and reflects a failure to believe in yourself and your capabilities.

It’s a nasty web to get caught in and can make you feel like you’re not in control of your own destiny. And when that happens, the natural thing we do is to try and escape the feeling by removing whatever is causing it. But when we do this, it holds us back from being able to achieve what we want.

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

The biggest way fear of failure can limit someone, is confirming their own self doubts and limiting beliefs.

That’s because the mind will always create what you focus on. Fear of failure is a self fulfilling prophecy. So if someone is focused on worrying about failing or making a mistake, they’re not going to be able to create the possibility to succeed, or even try and find a way to succeed. To do that you have to flip the focus of the mind.

When your mind is closed to the opportunities around you, you don’t see what strengths and skills you already have in being able to creatively find the way to succeed at your goals.

This can impact a person on so many levels, but here are a few ways:

  • Increased mental health challenges such anxiety, depression, panic attacks & low-self esteem
  • Reduced performance and performance anxiety
  • Quitting before you can succeed / not finishing things
  • Reduced confidence and self-belief
  • Unable to accept constructive criticism

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

By accepting failure to be an inevitable part of life, can open the door to a world of personal success.

When you start to shift your focus away from fearing failure and start to see that you already have strengths and skills in working towards success, even if its starting to learn something new, you’ll be able to start taking steps in achieving what you want.

You’ll reduce down the amount of pressure and stress you put on yourself. Start to validate yourself and see yourself as capable. You’ll sleep better, feel more healthy, feel more present in all areas of your life and have an increased level of happiness.

Not to mention you’ll perform better at work, collaborate more with people, take more risks, feel part of your working community, have more innovating ideas to bring to the table, push yourself out your comfort zone more, become a more effective leader and develop more positive relationships.

There literally is no end to what being free from the fear of failure can do to your 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’ve experienced a lot of failure over my life, but the most recent one happened only a few years ago and actually helped me up my game.

When I was still fairly new in my business and trying to find my feet with marketing, my negative core beliefs around not being good enough were really driving the show, and I was very much held back by a fear of failing.

I was a perfectionist and struggling to show up in my business unless everything I did was 100% perfect. I’d had doubts in my ability to write due to challenges from school and experiencing childhood anxiety relating to this. So day after day I would try so hard to show up in my business, but I felt nothing but constant panic which only led to self-sabotage.

Someone asked me if I had thought about doing a podcast. It wasn’t something that had crossed my mind, but I loved talking about what I did, and doing a podcast meant not having to write — perfect! A great way for me to get out of writing!

So, I got started and launched a podcast. Unfortunately, I struggled through about 7 episodes before hitting a point I couldn’t move past. My mind was cloudy, I couldn’t think straight, I felt anxious all the time and I couldn’t think of anything to share. That was it. Fear of failure hit me and my self-sabotage took over once again and I quit. I had failed, again.

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?

The truth is, failing at doing something is not the problem. The problem lies in failing to believe in yourself and what you’re capable of.

What failure gave me was so much information about my perception of myself and what I needed to reframe in order to move forward with my goals. And the most important thing I want to tell you is, that the limiting beliefs you have are not true. They are not fact and you can change them and reframe your experiences.

That’s what overcoming fear of failure is all about. Failure is all about growing. I had to go through the pain of growth in order to uplevel my self-belief. And there is no way I would be doing this interview now if I hadn’t had failed in order to grow.

I now love pushing myself out my comfort zone and feel excited about proving to myself that I’m capable of so much more. Yes I have to keep managing my mindset because when we uplevel our competence, our fears will also uplevel. But by using fear as little golden nuggets of information about how you can grow and developing yourself can really help you up your game.

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.

Step 1: See failure as a normal part of achieving success

Failure is an inevitable part of life, but its what you do with it that will actually determine your success.

In NLP we use a presupposition that “There is no failure, only feedback”. This means if you see failure as a confirmation that you’re not good enough, you will always fear it. However, if you see failure as something that’s useful for you, you’ll begin to feel able to make steps towards achieving what you want.

When I was back developing my podcast that I talked about earlier, I was fearing failure. I was focused on looking stupid and people calling me out on being a fraud because I didn’t feel I was worthy to be a podcaster.

What I learnt by failing, was I was missing one important ingredient — self belief. I suddenly realised that there is so much outside of our control when it comes to success, but by changing the way you view failure, really does open up the opportunity to view things in such a freeing way. When you start to make mistakes, you learn to start planning and working more effectively. You’ll learn something that will essentially mean you won’t fail the next time.

Step 2: Adopt a growth mindset

A growth mindset helps people become resourceful with problem-solving. It leads to greater resilience, helps you embrace challenges and improves academic and professional performance.

Through adopting a growth mindset it can help you feel confident in pushing your own boundaries and start seeking out opportunities to learn. And seeing failure as a normal part to achieving success is the first step to a growth mindset, the second is to choose to learn from failure through growth.

For example, I now see my failure with my podcast as full of amazing lessons. I was new to podcasting, so I needed to make a few mistakes to master it. I developed my personal style, grew my confidence to be open and started to feel able to grow my business.

Since then I have launched a second podcast which hit the Top 100 in the Entrepreneurship category in the UK.

Step 3: Uncover and challenge your fears

So when you next come up against your fears, you can remind yourself that your fear in failing is not real and you can choose to change the way you view them. And the best way to start doing that is to call your ego’s bluff!

To do this, list down all the things that could go wrong in doing what you want to do. Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? For example, in my podcast my fears were that no one would listen to it or someone would confront me about something I got wrong.

When you have uncovered your fears, start to challenge them. For each one, ask yourself, what could you do if that did happen? Would it matter? How could you deal with the situation if it happened?

Step 4: Just focus on the next step

This is all about learning to feel slightly uncomfortable about working towards new goals, but taking a step back if you go into panic mode.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is the one thing you have to start doing in order to achieve your goals. But so many people get ahead of themselves, set the bar too high, and then start to panic. That’s when fear will start to pop up big time.

The best way I help my clients to start reducing down the intensity of their fear based anxiety, is to bring things a little more close to home. If you’re in a state of fear and feeling high levels of panic and anxiety, come back to your comfort zone, focus on the strengths and skills you already have that will help you work towards your goals and set more realistic steps to take instead of focusing on the end result.

For example, when you feel fear and anxiety start to rise, ask yourself, “what’s the next step I can take that I feel comfortable to do”. When you do this, it helps cultivate confidence from within your comfort zone so you can get out there and start making progress without fear of failure stopping you.

Step 5: Celebrate all your achievements, especially the little ones

And finally, celebrate every small step you take.

When you start to take notice on what you’ve done, instead of focusing on what you haven’t done, you’ll start to feel like you’re working towards your goals. You’ll feel more confident, more in control and more excited to start pushing yourself more and more.

That’s because when you celebrate your achievements, it activates your reward center of the brain. This releases dopamine which is the happy feelgood hormone. And when you start to do that over and over again, you’ll naturally start to look for opportunities to achieve your goals.

Not only will it help you to feel more resilient, brave and daring; it will also reduce down the conditioned fear response that’s been driving your fear of failure.

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 question. Aristotle is the original life coach and I couldn’t agree more with this. To me this means the only way to succeed is to follow your own version of success, and to do otherwise will mean you’ll keep failing.

What I have found in my coaching career is that so many people view success as being driven by social pressures & expectations. They think they should have an acceptable job, be bold and outgoing in their career, reach a certain status that evokes respect and have an amazing car and earn lots of money. When this happens, people end up feeling in competition & intimidated by others, or fear that people may judge them if they don’t achieve that version of success.

However, there is the definition of success that is subjective to an individual person and sometimes a little more difficult to connect to. This type of success is full of personal motivation and is the driving force in helping someone achieve their goals. The job, status, stuff and money could be subjective success, but only if it creates the one thing people strive for — happiness.

Unfortunately it’s rare that a person will naturally and unconsciously choose their own version of success, because we get caught up competing and ensuring we remain accepted in the world around us.

What happens when this automatic response runs the show, is you feel disconnected from self and live life from a place of fear and stress because of what failing could do to your social connection and safety.

What Aristotle is saying about success, is that true success is knowing yourself and allowing yourself to grow. To be brave, fail and take risks that will lead to achieving a higher level of personal mastery.

Through making mistakes, you start to find out what’s important to you. It deepens your perception of yourself and the world around you. And eventually you’ll do anything to achieve the purpose in life you have connected to. Aristotle called this a ‘plan’. And having a plan that works, and incorporates many ways of failing, will help you to succeed in one way — to be happy & fulfilled.

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 love to inspire a movement of bringing more personal development skills into schools, or at least start to realize what academic pressure is doing to people. The professional world is becoming more and more competitive, and people feel pressured to push themselves to extreme measures in order to achieve.

So often people experience such damaging levels of stress because of the way our societies view success. This is reflected through the increased stats of university students experiencing stress. 87% of students say that their education is a significant source of stress, and around three-quarters of adults with a mental illness first experience symptoms before the age of 25.

However, if we can help young children develop the knowledge and understanding of positive personal growth for their future, and how to create and maintain emotional intelligence, this would positively impact on changing the mental health epidemic.

I for one feel that if I had known back in school, what I know now about personal development, my life would have turned out completely different. I wouldn’t have felt the pressure to perform, experience anxiety most of my life, and would have felt more confident to be who I am as a person.

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 most definitely say Jenna Kutcher. Since I have been in the Entrepreneurial online world, Jenna has been the go to person that gives me a boost of confidence when I need it. Her philosophy of being an imperfectly empowered woman has helped me overcome my own fear of judgement, being able to show up as my natural authentic self in my business and I absolutely love her down to earth, fun, silly and ‘being human’ vibe that she reflects throughout her brand.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best way is to come and read The Calm Minded Blog or listen to my podcast Business the Calm Way which is available on all podcast platforms.

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

Thank you so much!


  • Savio Clemente

    Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Media Journalist, #1 Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor

    The Human Resolve LLC

    Savio P. Clemente is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), media journalist, #1 best-selling author, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.  He coaches cancer survivors to overcome obstacles, gain clarity, and attract media attention by sharing their superpower through inspiring stories that make a difference. He inspires them to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. 

    Savio has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad.  His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.