Organization Development

Mar 28, 2023 8 min read

“Dispelling the fear of failure – Nurturing innovation and experimentation”

Author is a production manager at Panipat Refinery IOCL. He is a graduate in Engineering from IIT-BHU, Varanasi with around 8 years experience in Refinery operations


Working as a production manager in Refinery operations throws numerous challenges each day but we have to take informed decision to find a fastest and safest solution. This can be done only if we dispel the fear of failure from our minds. If we carry the burden of fear of failure in our minds, then we will just be sitting hand on hand and the plant will go towards a disaster. We nurture innovation and experimentation on daily basis to reduce energy consumption and make our plant more safer to operate.

“A person, who never made a mistake, never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein

If astronomers had fear to enter space, no one would have seen the surface of Moon or Mars…

Thomas Edison failed 2,774 times before inventing a bulb…

If MS Dhoni had fear of failure, he would have never left his government job and an excellent cricketer would have disappeared in mist…

KFC founder Sander’s secret chicken recipe was rejected 1009 times before becoming a hit…

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper company for lacking creativity but had he given up, everyone’s childhood would have been incomplete without his creativity…

Abraham Lincoln failed in business, life and presidential run before becoming the 16th President of USA at the age of 52…

Elizabeth Blackwell was rejected from 29 medical schools before becoming the first woman to receive a medical degree in the US…

Famous fiction writer, J.K Rowling was divorced, bankrupt and rejected by a dozen publishers before becoming a billionaire with Harry Potter’s success…

And the list goes on…

There is no dearth of examples in this world that prove that success is nothing but a byproduct of failures. We must dispel the fear of failure to nurture innovation and experimentation. Failure is scary but if you’re constantly afraid of a negative outcome, why bother pursuing anything? You might end a promising relationship because you fear pain if it doesn’t work out. The anxiety of failure can be debilitating if you let it. It’s important to be mindful of your fears and reframe them so they don’t negatively impact your life.

Understanding the fear of failure

Fear of failing, clinically known as atychiphobia, is difficult to identify. It manifests through subconscious behavior and thought patterns invisible to you. It’s often accompanied by a fixed mindset and automatic negative thoughts. That negativity harms your confidence and increases self-doubt.

First step in conquering the fear of failure is to first diagnose it. Recognize following pattern in your behavior –

  • Reluctance to try new things

  • Procrastination pursuing your goals or feel paralyzed with anxiety by progress.

  • Low self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-doubt.

  • Negative thoughts

  • Anxiety becomes so familiar that hanging onto it feels safer than dealing with its underlying symptoms.

Conquering the monster of fear of failure

It’s one thing to identify your fears; it’s another to overcome them. Accept that failure is normal. An expression “fail fast” has gained popularity these days. Business leaders know that accepting failure is a part of achieving success. Every mistake is a stepping stone toward a larger goal. Look at every situation as a learning experience and give yourself permission to not be a pro immediately. Even Michael Jordan practiced a lot before he became a success story. If you want to always succeed in your first attempt then it is an unrealistic expectation.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” in the words of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Living in fear comes at a cost. If you never try anything, you could miss out on some of life’s great opportunities. Remember that trying and failing if often better than not trying at all. If bravery means progressing without fear, courage means doing it despite fear. Be courageous, and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. People who do so probably live so cautiously that they go nowhere. Put simply, they’re not really living at all. We can choose to see failure as “the end of the world”, or as the incredible learning experience that it often is. Here are few ways to reduce the fear of failing –

  • Analyze all the possible outcomes

  • Learn to think more positively

  • Have a contingency plan

  • Start by setting few small goals

Acceptance is the key

No one likes to make mistakes. At best, they’re embarrassing. At worst, they affect your team members or loved ones. But they’re unavoidable. You can chase perfection all you want, but to err is to be human. The moment you stop making mistakes is when you stop growing in your life and career. We should learn from our mistakes, improvise and keep going.

Let’s end our discussion with a powerful quote of Bruce Lee –

“Don’t fear failure – not failure, but low aim is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”


Share this post

Comments (0)

No Comments yet..

Leave your thought here