Remember the pain of past failures — This one is a bit different from the other steps as it channels the negative energy rather than the positive. We are fascinating creatures, and sometimes our brains respond better to negative stimuli. This is the thought behind this step. It’s thinking about all the mistakes you have made before to motivate you to keep moving and do better. I used this technique a lot when I used to compete in CrossFit events. If I was tired and wanted to stop or slow down, I would think of the times when I was beaten and channel that into energy to move faster. It worked surprisingly well as a motivator.

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 Rick Ornelas.

Rick Ornelas is a bestselling author, Ultimate Success Coach™ and founder of I Spark Change. He helps individuals gain clarity and guidance by eliminating the roadblocks preventing their personal and professional success so they can elevate their social impact and spread positive change.

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’?

Growing up in a middle-class family as the youngest of five and only boy is where it all started for me. Here, I learned the valuable lessons that would carry me through life: the value of faith, family, and love. During my formative years, I tried to embody those values in my endeavors and always sought to help others. I spent my early career in the healthcare field. Initially with large Fortune 500 companies in marketing, training, and corporate development and later, in smaller companies focusing on growth and improvement. So in 2015, I decided to venture off on my own as a business coach in the medical sector, working with doctors of all types to develop their practices.

For the past few years, I continued to realize what had been missing from my life was working for a higher purpose and having a more significant social impact. In April of 2020, I decided to finally write the book that had been in my head for almost twenty years, 12 Hours of Heaven; Lessons for a Better World. I’m thrilled I did because it helped solidify many of my life lessons about growth and success.

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

One shareable tale that comes to mind is when I was very young and filling in as a handyman for an apartment building my mom managed near Hollywood. One of her tenants was a famous young actress who I was anxious to meet. Then, one day, my mom asked me to install a new shower head in one of the apartments upstairs. So much to my surprise, it was the apartment of the young actress. I was so nervous that I didn’t exactly complete the work correctly. My mom called a real plumber after the shower head fell on the girl when she turned the water on to take a shower after I left. That was the last repair job of my career.

I learned two valuable lessons from the experience. First, take the time to study a craft before assuming you can do it. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in many areas. Second, I always take the time to get comfortable before I dive into something new.

Second, get help from an expert when needed. This is easier today as the resources to find help 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?

There are many important traits to being a leader, but these three carry the most weight.

  1. Confidence- This is the single most prominent trait for a leader if they want to gain influence and grow a following and cause. It is highly sought after and the reason why people put their faith in some of the worst figures in history. Their massive level of confidence made them extremely attractive to others. A few years back, the startup company I partnered with acquired a second business with no solid leader. I was chosen to be the new CEO despite my lack of experience in that role. I immersed myself into learning all I could about the business and went in cool and confident. This rallied the staff around me, and we were able to add a satellite location and grow the business.
  2. Courage- A close ally to confidence is courage. As a leader, you often need to make difficult and unpopular decisions. This is much easier if you have the courage behind your actions. Before I joined the startup mentioned above, I was hesitant to leave the safety of my corporate position. I had been some tenure and was on a good upward track. I took a leap into the unknown to be an Exec VP of Sales and Marketing and leaned heavily on my courage as I figured it all out.
  3. Humility- This third component is essential if you already have the other two. Without humility, either confidence or courage can be dangerous in the wrong individual. When I was younger, I had a ton of confidence but lacked humility. I often came across as arrogant or cocky, which turned others off. I also had to learn the value of humility with courage. As a younger leader, I often made stupid decisions being courageous and arrogant. This led to a lot of mistakes and retribution. It wasn’t until I embraced my humility that I got the other two right.

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 afraid to fail for two reasons.

First, they get too comfortable, making it challenging to deviate from the status quo. I did this for many years, not living up to my potential until the pandemic forced me outside of my comfort zone. Human beings are creatures of habit, so change is difficult.

Second, because it is unknown. Success is never guaranteed. Many variables are outside of control, which is frightening. I’m someone who likes having control in all situations. It was scary when the pandemic took much of the power we thought we had in our lives away. I realized that having control can be an illusion. Once I accepted the things I could not control, I was able to focus on those I could, such as taking action to improve myself.

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

If you are always afraid to fail, then you will never grow. We were put on earth to flourish and enjoy all life offers. Being afraid limits you from new experiences. It also prevents others from the benefits of what you can offer the world. I’ve known many people in my life with beautiful talents that they never shared because of fear.

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

When you push the limits, you allow for change, ultimately leading to new growth. If you don’t let the fear of failure take hold but learn to harness its power, you can use it to create excitement and courage.

These can drive success and more opportunities.

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 dealt with various instances of failure throughout my life and career. For example, many years ago, I joined a Health care startup company with high hopes. We had a hot new product, a specialized market, and investors behind us. We were primed for success and started out great but failed to deliver. A short time later, the company completely shut down in under two years. Unfortunately, we had failed to produce to the levels needed to sustain the business.

It was a massive disappointment for the investors and us.

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?

It wasn’t easy at first. I was unemployed for the first time in my life and living in a town that I had relocated my family to 1500 miles from our old home. We did not have an entire support system yet, which was scary. Instead, I focused on what I could control and began searching for work while enjoying the summer with my family. Exactly two months later, I started a new and better position. I learned that it’s ok to feel and it’s ok to be afraid.

You just can’t let the fear keep you from taking action. Instead, it’s taking action that will help you figure it out and become better.

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.

Fear has been a large part of my life, as it is for most people. I’ve taken my fear and turned it into the fuel I needed to adapt and grow. Here are five things I have learned along my journey.

  1. Just get started — When I was younger, I let fear hold me back in many instances. I remember being at a school dance where there was a beautiful exchange student who I wanted to meet. I was so afraid of what would happen that I never got to meet her. The main thing to remember is that everything significant is just on the other side of fear. It usually only takes 5–10 seconds of courage to break through the fear, and then it goes away.
  2. Take tiny action — This is closely related to number one. Often times we get so afraid of the outcome because we make it too big in our minds, and it seems too far away. We speak to ourselves with self-limiting beliefs that don’t allow us to move. It becomes much more attainable when we take tiny actions in pursuit of whatever we are trying to accomplish. So we must move toward the fear and embrace it one tiny step at a time.
  3. Recognize and celebrate the wins — When someone is goal-oriented as I am, we can spend a lot of time constantly chasing the next accomplishment. Years ago, I started practicing martial art, Tae Kwon Do. I seemed naturally good at it as a young man and figured I would practice it for the rest of my life. I went on for about a year, attaining belt after belt until I moved and had to join a different school. I had spent so much time rushing through that I had forgotten much of my earlier teachings. I ended up having to start over and prove myself. The lesson I learned was the importance of taking the time to celebrate each milestone along the way. I realized after the fact that it was always about the journey and not the destination.
  4. Gain confidence — This one sounds complicated, but it actually is not. By practicing steps 1 and 2, you will have some small wins. You can celebrate them, as stated previously, and then take the confidence you’ve gained from the wins and turn it into the confidence fuel you need to continue. This is what kept me writing my first book all the way until completion. I had never written anything of significance, so to write a book seemed too big. I focused only on what I accomplished each day and used the confidence I gained to drive me until the end.
  5. Remember the pain of past failures — This one is a bit different from the other steps as it channels the negative energy rather than the positive. We are fascinating creatures, and sometimes our brains respond better to negative stimuli. This is the thought behind this step. It’s thinking about all the mistakes you have made before to motivate you to keep moving and do better. I used this technique a lot when I used to compete in CrossFit events. If I was tired and wanted to stop or slow down, I would think of the times when I was beaten and channel that into energy to move faster. It worked surprisingly well as a motivator.

Any of these steps on their own can help to minimize the paralyzing effects of fear. For example, if you can learn how to utilize them to their full capacity and put them together when needed, you can become free from the 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?

This is true in a sense. This means that every time we fail, we learn how NOT to do whatever we are trying to accomplish. These are essentially the many ways we can fail. Once we know the solution, then this is what he’s referring to as the only way to success. We don’t want to limit our thinking or creativity by taking this as meaning that there is always only one solution to a problem because this is often not the case. I’ve been in numerous situations in business and life where multiple solutions will solve a specific problem.

So, take Aristotle’s wisdom with a grain of salt and keep trying. You’ll figure out the right path to 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. 🙂

My current movement, I Spark Change. This movement is devoted to positively changing the world one bit, one person at a time. We are building a community of those who want to elevate social impact and spread positive change worldwide. This is setting the foundation for the world’s first social media platform 100% geared towards connecting all those interested in positive change throughout the 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 🙂

Tristan Harris- the president and a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology and creator of The Social Dilemma.

I have been trying to connect with individuals like him since 2009 when I began working on a social media platform focused entirely on doing social good. I’ve been refining the idea and building a community. I Spark Change is soon to be the world’s first social platform 100% geared towards connecting individuals, groups, and organizations in a global Angel network to spread positive change through actions large and small. I know Tristan will understand the mission and want to help somehow. If you’re reading this, I’d love to speak with you! @tristanharris

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Sign up to join I Spark Change at We won’t spam you; I promise. You will be notified about our community’s growth, new blog articles, events, and future books.

Join our growing Facebook community More and more people who want to spread positive change join each day!

Follow us on Instagram for immediate: inspiration, motivation, and spirituality. You’ll be thrilled you did.

Puzzle- the future social media site we are working on. You can register as one of the first members when the site goes live.

YouTube for greater insight into the driving forces behind I Spark Change. to find out about upcoming books and information on the release of 12 Hours of Heaven; Time on Earth.

Amazon- to order a copy of 12 Hours of Heaven: Lessons for a Better World

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.