Overcoming Fear of Failure #NewDelhi

I think we’ve never had so much apprehension and nail biting as well as lots of laughter mixed into one session before! Sorry for the long post but sharing all the learning!

Taking the jump into the unknown is never easy – but we’ve all had to do it and this is where real learning takes place. Often we struggle with the fear of failure, taking the leap into the unknown seems impossible and so we remain in our comfort zone.

We began by getting to know our fears and challenges whether linked to our personal or professional life.

It is important to know your fear, understand the emotional drivers behind it and why our fears can in the worst case lead to self – sabotage – creating a mindset that renders us unfit to meet the challenges we are facing. Even though we are perfectly capable to do so.

Some of the fears and challenges shared have been listed below.

Many of us realised that our fears centered around tackling the unknown, trying to make sure we make the ‘right’ decisions, adapting to new situations such as starting a new job and questioning are own capabilities. What a lot of fear we can all carry!

To begin the process of overcoming our fears we then launched into the Exper activity called Tower Building. Participants use cube blocks to build a tower with their non preferred hand – while being blindfolded! There is no time limit – only you decide when to stop and one person can verbally assist you. The number of blocks you successfully use to build with will gives you your score – but if your tower falls down then you get zero! In India the average score for this activity is a tower of 7 blocks.

Before the group began the task they were asked to share the score they thought they would achieve as well as the score other members in their team would achieve.

The group was split into two and we began! This is where the madness ensued. Do view the videos to feel a part of it 🙂

Every member in the each group had a go and soon realised the task is not so easy. An intense relationship of listening and understanding instructions formed between the person verbally assisting and the person building the tower.

“Move one millimeter to the left, no to the right now, slowly! slowly!, drop the block now!”

The rest of the team were either biting their nails in apprehension or trying to stifle their laughter!

After everyone had completed the activity we gathered around to explore the emotions we were feeling when 1)I was explaining the rules, 2)completing the activity, 3) verbally assisting someone and 4)you had finished.

Lots of different emotions were shared which could be grouped by emotions linked to:

‘Fear of Failure” (nervousness, stress, negative vibes, confusion, unprepared, helplessness, paranoia, not fair, tiring)


‘Hope of Success” (intense, trust, calm, elated, teamwork, connection)

Just in terms of numbers the group expressed more feelings linked to fear of failure.

To overcome our fears we need to be aware of the default MINDSET we are working from and how we can make the transition to facing all our fears and challenges with a mindset of ‘Hope of Success’. When working from this mindset we will persist in looking for options and creating solutions to the challenges we are facing.

We then had a look at our score sheets and compared what we thought we would achieve to what we actually achieved. When I had shared that the average score in India is 7 – it was a number I had in fact picked out of the air!

Most people had given themselves a guestimate score of around 5/6/7 – they thought they would achieve the said average or below.

Here we explored the idea of PERSONAL BENCHMARKING – where do you position your capability, skill and self first in relation to what you believe you can achieve and second what you can achieve in relation to others – and is this truly a reality?

Most people surpassed the score they had given themselves and achieved much more – the tallest tower we had was 13 blocks! What happens if you link this to your real life context – the project or start up you are working on – are you achieving your full potential and helping your team do the same? Often the limiting factor is in fact ourself and the mindset we are working from. It is important to keep questioning whether you can raise your own benchmark and surpass what you believe you can achieve.

We then explored the question “How can we overcome the fears and challenges we are facing?”


As well as personal benchmarking and mindsets these were some of the other ideas shared.

DON’T OVERTHINK – overthinking, continuous questioning of your capability and the fear of ‘will I be able to do it?’ can be a negative spiral into inaction – just go out and do it!

FLOW – This is where we want to be working from – a sense of flow and being ‘in the zone’, where an awareness of your passions, skills and capability all come together.

PERSISTENCE + PATIENCE – Success is not an overnight phenomena – with persistence you will gather data and knowledge on what works which will give you the confidence to keep on keeping on!

TRUST – trusting yourself and others is a huge step for some. In a team it’s essential. Trust in your capability and in the capability of others.

COMMUNICATION –when working in a different cultural context it is easy to misunderstand the intent and impact the behavior of a friend or colleague can have. Be clear, concise and make sure you being understood and are understanding others.

OWNERSHIP – in teams ensuring everyone is onboard and feels a sense of responsibility for the larger vision you are trying to achieve.

ADAPTABILITY – circumstances will change, not everything will go to plan – are you prepared? Does your mindset allow you to overcome challenges or failures quickly to move on to your next step?

What a brilliant session and thanks to those of you who made it last night – I certainly had a lot of fun facilitating!



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