Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – S4 E8: “Fear of Failure – Is It Real?”

“Fear of Failure – Is It Real?” Brief Summary:

The fear of failure, is it real? What is fear of success and how is it different from a fear of failure? In this Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans Podcast episode, hosts Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo discuss the fear of failure, whether it’s a real thing, and give some tips on how to succeed in life, career, and leadership.

“There is no guarantee of success and people should know about that first and foremost.”


  • Introduction
  • Are you afraid of success? Or afraid of failing?
  • What is fear of success?
  • The symptoms of fear of success
  • When you’ve failed, and getting back on the horse
  • Redefining success

Calls to Action:

Even before the remote workforce evolution, office culture was inherently fragile. After all, it’s made up of imperfect humans interacting with other imperfect humans. And while perfection isn’t the goal, we all secretly wish for a workplace where people find ways to bring out the best in each other. Unfortunately, that’s not always an intuitive skill. It takes guidance, practice, and then more guidance and practice… but with the right leadership, it’s definitely achievable. How do you enhance your workforce’s ability to engage, collaborate, and adapt in this volatile and uncertain reality? Get the answers to your culture questions when you setup a complimentary Discovery Session with Kyle Kalloo at

Not loving your career? Feel you need a change in your job? Let’s Strategize! Book a complimentary Strategy Session with Christopher Lawrence here:

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Christopher Lawrence LinkedIn:

Kyle Kalloo LinkedIn:

Change My Life Coaching & Change My Business Coaching LinkedIn:

Looking to create a corporate coaching culture? Reach out to Kyle Kalloo: [email protected]


“Fear of Failure – Is It Real?” Transcript:

[00:00:00] You can do all sorts of things. And there is no guarantee of success and people should know about first and foremost. Like do not think because you manifest it because you pray because you work hard, hard work doesn’t even necessarily lead to success. Is the thought of being imperfect, keeping you from taking action.

Welcome to inspired action for imperfect humans. Each week, we give you real life stories and thought provoking research that inspires your soul to live a more fulfilled life through your own actions from the heart of Calgary Canada. Here are your hosts award winning coaches, Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo.

Good morning, Kyle, how are you doing today? I’m living my best life today. Are you really? You know, even if it’s, sometimes don’t feel that way. Uh, that’s the mindset I like to kick it off with because I’m more likely to move in that [00:01:00] direction that if I wake up on the side of the bed and says, listen, I’m miserable and everything in anything is going to be a problem.

Oh, I wonder why, where did that come from? I don’t know. I just think it’s, it starts, you know, I, I, I did this blog, um, many years ago and I think I’ve seen stuff about it. Um, Uh, later on, but one of the things about wins, you know, and we’ve talked about many wins and you know, some of the stuff that we’ve done, but one of the main thing I say to myself is the first win is I get out of bed and I make my bed.

I start my day by making my bed.
I start my day by making my bed.

And I think I saw there was a, you know, a YouTube video with this army guy says, you know, that’s like, make your bed, get up and make your bed. I mean, I was doing that since I was quite young. Uh, not because the school required us to, but my own, my mom, but it was always about making your bed not. The mind frame I want to get up with is I start with a win and I want to get to a, how do I start this day off?

Right. And I think the mindset of living [00:02:00] my best life, even if, sometimes I don’t feel it or it doesn’t start that way. I really liked the direction that it goes. So that can be a little bit like. I don’t know, like, like I I’ve come to this place of like, I don’t like summarizing a life concept into a sentence or a meme, and I think I’ve become distasteful of it because you see so much of that.

I haven’t been on Facebook in months and I decided to go on Facebook on the weekend. And just scroll through. I mean, I was shocked at how divisible it is, like, like, like shocked, not shocked, but just like, like people who I respect have taken a really narrow perspective and there’s not enough thinking in shades of gray.

And so, and, and so. Like when you talk about the army guy and how making your bed leads to success. One of the guys I know was making $350,000 a year in us funds and never made his bed ever. And I asked him, I’m like, [00:03:00] why, why didn’t you make your bed? Like, he’s like, cause I’m just going to mess it up. I’m like, but like you don’t ever make it.

She says, no, I’m just going to mess it up. Yeah. And okay. So the measure of success in that case, it’s like dollar amount. Right. But, but I look at that and it’s just like, you can’t say that people who make their bed, are more successful, like success is so funny, but because it’s perception. So it was kind of thinking about people in the workplace today and boys and girls.

You’re not going to believe like w we were recording another podcast just a few minutes ago and I had to shut it down. Girl, at least I was thinking about people in the workplace. Kyle wanted to talk about how the fact, you know, the fact that he’s still single. And, um, I know why. And again, speaking of success, maybe being single is successful for me.

Oh. Because, so I don’t know why you need a whole podcast therapy session. [00:04:00] And I think sometimes based on what you just said, You know, sometimes it is somewhat subjective, right? And so I think if someone making their bed puts them in a mind frame or a mindset of success for themselves. Absolutely. Instead of those people.

Taking the recipe and says, oh my God, I can’t believe I’m not successful. I was making my bed for like 15 years, 30 years. How come I’m not successful? I think that’s a, I think that, I think that’s my point is that, is that I think that we take a statement like that. Like you can do all sorts of things and there is no guarantee of success and people should know.

First and foremost, like do not think because you manifest because you pray because you work hard, hard work doesn’t even necessarily lead to success. So I think there’s two things going on. I think when we look at like fear of success, the first question is that, is it a real thing? And then the second question is what’s it [00:05:00] based off of?

So here’s, here’s what I want to say. Success is completely defined by the individual. And I think too often we’re taking a societal standard of success. But fear of success is a real thing. It’s just, I think when I work with my clients, I hear clients say I’m afraid of being successful. And so we start to explore what that means.

Do you have a fear of success, or a fear of failure?
Do you have a fear of success, or a fear of failure?

And I would say 90% of the time, they’re actually just, uh, afraid of failing, which is not a fear of success. They’re actually afraid of failing, which is a totally different thing. So I think that people need to be really conscious and not habitual in their language or in their thinking around this. So, Kyle, what do you think, should we break down what the fear of success is?

Yeah. I mean, I’m curious what, what you have on the other side of that, because when I hear the word, you know, fear of success, you know, I actually go to the place. What you just described [00:06:00] was more the fear of failure. Right. And it’s almost what you, sometimes we hear from clients as well is when they, um, what was that other term?

They, I hear quite often about, um, The term about someone feeling imposter syndrome. Is that the right? And I think when somebody says, Hey, I feel like I have imposter syndrome. And I also go to the fear of failure too. Right. When I hear those two terms, for whatever reason, you know, and you know, it reminds me of a workshop.

I think you did many moons ago. Uh, I think you still do it, but I remember when. Did it were, you did the diagram around, you know, failure, you know, like we think success is this, this one little dot this bull’s eye right on this dart board. Like, it’s just this one little thing, you know, um, and fear is all over it.

Right. And all failures. Yeah. Failures all over it. Right. Like people just don’t want it. And I think of it as successes as actually. Things around it. Like there’s so many successes and they all [00:07:00]lead up to certain things. That’s from my perspective where I, yeah, I agree. I think if people were more narrowly defined fear, sorry, girl, you got me all screwed up.

Now, if people narrowly define failure, your opportunity for successes greater. So, so the idea is that you kind of hack your brain and you see. Successes, all of these other things, but failure is only specifically this like failure might be just, don’t make an attempt where success might be everything where you make an attempt.

And I would say that that’s the ultimate, because, because when you’re afraid of, um, uh, what, when you, when you define success really narrowly, that’s your best chance at failing, right? And, and in life, there are no guarantees. So it’s kind of like if you’re learning to ride a bike, We think success, get on the bike and go and have no accidents issues or whatever, but avid bikers know that doesn’t matter what age there [00:08:00] can still be.

Mistakes. Your foot is going to slip off the pedal sometimes. Misjudge how steep the hill is. You might have to get off and walk sometimes, you know, like, like, so if we define successes, just like get on and go. Our likelihood of having psychological defeat is really great. So the idea actually is to flip it on its head and say, You know what I really, uh, think that failure is just not getting back on the bike.

That’s my only failure is just not getting back on the bike. So I’m just going to keep getting back on the bike. The rest of life is the same, and I wish that people in organizations would, would. Would actually perceive their careers a little bit more like that. I wish leadership would perceive their team a little bit more like that.

You know, I, I wish that, um, teams would perceive their leadership a little bit more like that. Um, especially when it comes to difficult conversations, which you and I spend a lot of time talking about on this podcast. So Kyle let’s define. [00:09:00] Uh, fear of success. So basically this is like, it can lead to like, self-sabotaging, that’s one of the things that people do, but, but it’s really important to understand some of the specific criteria.

So, so there, there’s a handful of bullets here that I want people to pay attention to. They can use it as a little bit of. Uh, a self-assessment. Okay. Um, fear of success can include getting extra attention, but actually you’re shy or uncomfortable with the spotlight. Right? So some people will kind of shy back.

That can be a fear of success because we do tend to spot like people who. Who are achieving or whatever, which brings the thing back. It’s like, it’s like, Hey, you’ve had a success. This is for leaders. You’ve had a success. How would you like me to acknowledge this? Because my nature would be to give you public recognition.

Is that something that. Some people do not want that. That’s funny. And [00:10:00] I liked that. You’re suggesting it’s about checking in because as you and I know we have many different styles of people in the world, and some people want the public validation, right? The want, the recognition that goes with it. And some people don’t just your leader, acknowledging, Hey, I saw that is for some people like amazing.

Success sometimes brings isolation.
Success sometimes brings isolation.

Totally. The other thing, uh, that sorta comes with this, Kyle is that sometimes success brings isolation. Yes. So I know my most successful times, it was interesting early in my career. I had a leader who often. She would kind of single out people who are highly successful and, and, and often she would do it when, um, there were sort of on her side, like if they understood her point of view or whatever.

So what was interesting actually is that it was totally isolating because I became a favorite. Um, and so, and then you look at people who are highly, like, look at people who win millions of dollars. They often [00:11:00] lose their friends. Right. Because there, because it is a. You know, there’s a separating your thinking changes when you have money to spend and versus when you don’t.

Yeah. And I think people around you also tend to do that. I remember when I was younger in my, in my leadership role and I just thought I was just doing that work. And then they’re like, oh, look, who do you think you are? Do you think you’re the boss? Now? You think you’re the new supervisor? And I also struggled with that in the beginning.

Cause I’m thinking. I was just trying to do better work. Like I wasn’t, how do I outman you like, you know, I didn’t climb up on these high horses. Like you notice everyone who says get off your high horse. I say, you put me here. I didn’t actually climb up on any horse. Right. You’re the one who’s putting me up here.

Feel you have to knock me down. Right. And I think so. I agree with you the isolation, cause there’s times where, and I’ve often said leadership is a lonely gig, right? Because it is your leadership. I think [00:12:00] it’s not just leadership. Okay, let’s redefine this. I think leadership requires sometimes thinking in the contrary and it requires sometimes waving the flag, even though you don’t want to.

And so that when we talk leadership in that context, we’re talking about a mindset and a behavior. It’s not necessarily by title boldly and even athletes. I’m sure the ones who are up there as well. Cause they doing the work they’re practicing. They’re, they’re actually out there as well. And I think that could happen amongst.

Athletes right there team one seems to be pushing further or doing more where the others like, well, dude, like seriously relax, right? Yeah. So you actually, when you started that comment, you were talking about isolation, but you moved into the next bullet unknowingly, which is actually achievement can alienate your peers.

Uh, absolutely. As well. So, so yeah, I, it’s interesting. Um, some folks, uh, are very comfortable with bragging or self promotion, but if that’s not, it. Folks might think that you’re bragging or self promotion. [00:13:00] I can tell you that this is one of the key bullet points that I coach people on is that they’re afraid people, especially in Canadian culture, it seems people are afraid of being better than their peers.

Um, and they don’t like, like, there’s this thing of like, well, I don’t want people to think differently of me. And it’s like, that’s because you think differently of people who are in that position. I remember there was a woman, uh, she knew what she wanted in life. Uh, coaching her for a number of years. She knew what she wanted in life.

She went out and got it. She was very, you know, I, I think marriages or contracts, she knew what she wanted. She, she wanted to marry somebody who was successful. She wanted to have financial freedom through that avenue. Um, it, it was an agreement. It was an understanding. It was an arrangement. Certainly there was love there.

She knew what she wanted.
She knew what she wanted.

Um, you know, but, but also it’s like she set her sights on it and I know some people think that’s really shallow, but I’m like, but that was success defined on her terms. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because some people only go for [00:14:00] the best looking person. Some people only go for the kindest person.

Some people only go for, you know, some people are reachers and summer settlers. And so. Kind of what you desire. And so, so I, I, you know, I look at this woman and she had achieved it, but, but she wouldn’t go and live the life she wanted to live because she was so afraid because all of her peers were kind of like just above minimum wage workers and, you know, and that kind of thing.

And she was really afraid of being perceived a certain way by them. Um, so, so I think, I think that that’s a really, really important, uh, piece. Um, I think, uh, Oh, so, so the next bullet point here is, uh, people fear being knocked off the pedestal. So they’re afraid if they achieve it that lose it. Yeah. Yeah.

That makes sense. And you know, I come from the school of when you grew up without it, you already know what that’s like. So if you lose it, you can go back through it. Like if you’ve created [00:15:00] it, you can. Right. Well, I think there’s this remembering piece. It’s like, well, you won’t be on a pedestal the whole time anyway, because girl, it all comes to the end.

Like even if it’s just by the, you know, mere inevitability of your death, it’s all coming to an end. Like you will not be on the top forever. Look at history, looking every single person in history, nobody got to the top stayed of the top without whatever their whole life. It just doesn’t happen. Yeah. I remember, sorry to interrupt you there.

I remember in school when I often said,

um, uh, I’m just doing what you do well, um, but one of the things I say is when you get an A, like, think about the school system, when you get an A, I find it was harder to hold onto an A than it was to hold on to a C or a B, right. Because, you know, The standards, a little bit of higher thinking peaking about pedestal.

It’s a little bit higher. Cause you have to do so much more, [00:16:00] you know, expectations seems to be formed around you either by your peers or the teachers, right. Or about saying, Hey, and sometimes you’ll even hear it back. You know, you’re an, a student I expected more from you, you know? Yeah, those are the language that seems to form a lot of things in and people do that.

Well, maybe your expectation is misplaced because sometimes I’m going to be a B student, whether it’s in school or somewhere else in life. It’s amazing to, yeah. Like when you kind of look at grit factors and stuff like this and the marshmallow. Experiment in the longterm effects of that. There is very little correlation between grades and success in life.

What is the marshmallow experience? Is that with the kids, with the don’t eat the marshmallows. Yeah. Don’t eat the marshmallow, but, but the guy who originally did it actually followed these kids like 20 years later and looked at success factors and those who could delay the eating of the marshmallow tended to have better success factors.

And so I suspect that there’s a whole bunch of holes we could poke into [00:17:00] that, but I think there’s something here. Patience and, and delayed gratification. Totally. Um, so I, I have, um, uh, two more bullets here. Uh, success may not be all it’s cracked up to be. I want to comment on this one. When I started coaching, I thought I’m going to be Tony Robbins.

Like, that’s what I want. I want that level of success. And then I look at his life and, um, Not a chance in hell. I don’t want his life. I don’t want, like, I don’t need to have my entire life taken over by marketing, advertising and promotional people. Like, sir, he’s got some money to play with, but I don’t, I’ve never desired that much money.

And I think that. People have a disconnect, like, like it’s like, w what’s that money going to do for you? Like, like you just going to buy more stuff. And then what, like, I I’ve been down that path that I already know that money doesn’t buy happiness. There’s a reason why I walked away from a six-figure job to make peanuts in that first few years as [00:18:00] a life coach.

Like I think that people need to recognize that success may not be all it’s cracked up to be. You know, if you’re climbing that corporate ladder, look at your leader and look at your leaders leader and see how they spend their time and ask yourself that if that’s how you want to spend your time, because that would be inherent in the culture of the company.

Um, and then. Uh, sometimes, uh, people fear that success might change them and not for the better. And I do think that that’s true. I think that there’s certain levels of success that when people hit it, they see the kind of like, like there, there there’s a commitment level that has to be maintained. I look at like famous YouTubers and it’s like, people do not understand how hard they work.

Like, and, and it’s like, do you know how many likes and, and this and that, you have to get. In an already saturated market to have success in that field. And people don’t understand. It’s like, I actually coached one. She, um, uh, she, you know, she may very, very good money, [00:19:00] um, 30, 40, $50,000 a month, but literally they would have to film for like, Oh, I don’t know.

Sometimes they would have to film 10 days, like eight to 16 hours a day to get a 15 minute video.
Sometimes they would have to film 10 days, like eight to 16 hours a day to get a 15 minute video.

Um, sometimes 10 days, like eight to 16 hours a day to get a 15 minute video to get a 15 minute video. And if people didn’t like it, like, it’s sorry, filming and editing and music and sound effects. And so not just filming, but it was like, They would typically do eight to 10 hours of footage for, for a 10 to 15 minute, uh, video.

And, and it was just like, people, people don’t understand like how much work is involved. So it’s like, you know, so, so I think it’s, um, there’s another term here, Kyle called success, anxiety or success phobia. Um, sometimes achievement phobia is what it’s called, but I think people misplace it. And I think it’s important when they look at it to really dig around.

Um, to find out if you, [00:20:00] if you, if you just have a fear of failure or if you actually have a fear of success, because I think that people use language habitually and they don’t really understand. I want to give the folks some symptoms here. So this is, these are some of the symptoms, like here’s some of the behaviors, um, having low goals.

So you set the bar low to keep yourself from being challenged procrastination, right? And by the way, these are not. These are not just associate, like, don’t say why procrastinate and have low goals. So I’m afraid of success and it’s like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You got to look at the picture and then kind of dig in a bit.

This is where having a coach can be really helpful. Uh, perfectionism, you strive for perfection when you inevitably. Uh, fall short. That’s reason enough not to proceed girl, that one I fall, I fall into all the time. It’s just like, it’s like, uh, like every time you and I do this in our business, don’t we like every time we’re about to do a new initiative, my brain immediately goes to, but if we’re successful at this, then [00:21:00] who’s going to maintain it.

And my default is Christopher’s going to maintain it. Cause I’m a little bit picky about how things are. Right. Um, quitting just when you’re on the verge of success. So you find a reason to quit. How many people are like one semester away from university degree, you know, like so many, uh, and self-destructiveness.

Some people will actually turn to self destructive behavior. I mean, and I think, I mean, tell me if I’m wrong, but I think some of our. Habitual stuff that we do, we tend to fall into. Right. So if it’s a new territory and we haven’t explored this yet. And do you find that the behaviors that we’ve created in the past, we just say, you know what, because that’s the thing where people like, oh, I was doing so well and like, boom.

And then just because they fell back or I fall off the horse or, you know, uh, went back to a behavior. That’s not working for them. They feel, you know what, that’s it, since. You know, gone [00:22:00]back to it. Uh, I I’m done. It’s almost like, you know, those folks in, uh, alcohol anonymous. Right? Do they do that where they’re like, listen, let’s start again.

Right? So you may have lost the chip or whatever. I’m not as familiar with it. So don’t, don’t come from me. Anyone who, who who’s in that. But I think what I like it. You could start again. I know we talk about that in our, you know, in the healthy transformation program around, you know, when we go off on our diets or we have a weekend or a day of bad food, you know, it’s not about I’m done now.

You can learn from failure, and start again.
You can learn from failure, and start again.

See, I went, I had chips I’m done instead. It’s like, you know what? Today’s a new day. Right. So I could start from today moving forward. So that last point, just as what hit me there. W what do you think the imperfect inspired action needs to be? You know, I think from my, from my perspective, I’ll share with you guys is about the redefinition of success, I think is just putting that out there in your own mind of what are some things that are successful.

And, you know, I often talk about it. Doesn’t have to be step [00:23:00] six, right? The first step could be. Ruminating about it in your mind, or imagine certain things. And I think we have to redefine what successful look like. Like when we started this podcast, for me, success is making my own bed that’s for me getting up.

And the first thing I do is I make. My own bed. Right? So it’s about redefining what success that would be wonderful for sure for you. Yeah. You know, Kyle, I agree. I think defining success on your own terms is really, really important. Tend to do your best to do that from a place of needs. So checking in with your needs and saying, what is it that I need?

And I think actually the ultimate success is checking in with your needs and then addressing those needs as best as possible having the met. I think that takes people far further than success on someone else’s terms. It’s amazing actually, because early in our lives, we do tend to chase success based off of societal currency.

And I don’t know about you, [00:24:00] Kyle, but I know in my life, when I checked every single one of those boxes, I was miserable. I was miserable. I’m like, There’s nothing here that I love about my life. And then I blew it all up and went, started my own company. And so, so, so I look at that and it’s like, and I think people on the outside look at us and say, oh, those guys are so successful, you know, whatever else.

And I was like, yeah, sure. I think that we are successful. I feel successful too. We’re successful because of how we’ve chosen to define it. It’s not the number going into our bank account. It’s not that. And yes, I know you got to check some boxes, but it’s like, what, what if living within your means was the success rather than making more money?

Like I chose you, you look at our relationship. My relationship with my husband, we share some really important values. We chose a very modest home, a very modest home because we wanted to early pay our mortgage. Right. And we have not done that yet, but, but [00:25:00] to me that’s a success. It’s like, it’s not about having a bigger house in the nicest house and whatever else.

And you know, living in the nicest area is about saying, okay, but I want to own a house. I just don’t want to have to pay for it forever. I don’t want to be mortgage bound and you know, why do I need all of this space and everything else? That’s been honestly, Like, I look at that and I’m like, even just the definition of that makes me feel successful.

I mean, and that leads me to the, the thing too about, uh, if I could pose the second one, which would be about creating an environment that allows for you to be successful once you’ve defined it right. Is creating that environment to allow for it to happen. Um, because it’s one thing to define it, but yet if you’re surrounded by people or situations that’s going to get in your way of it being successful.

Then that doesn’t make sense. You know, I am so fortunate that my mom did not create a environment where she defined all the successes. She didn’t say, well, you have to, this, you have to, this, you have to write it’s [00:26:00] about creating opportunities and saying, Hey, maybe you should explore that. Hey, what about this?

But not feeling restricted that she defined success as this one thing. Right. Um, so that would be, I think the top two. I love that. And I think, I think if people spent more time defining what they actually want their life to look like or aspects of their life to look like and being really pragmatic and reasonable and thinking in shades of gray, taking one little step at a time, I think people will find far more joy in their lives.

Thank you very much folks. We’ll see you next week. It’s our goal to build a global community of inspired action takers, and we can only do that with your help. So if you love inspired action, please leave a review on your favorite podcasting app and share us on your socials you’ve heard from us. Now we want to hear from you go to inspired action, and tell us what is [00:27:00] the inspired action you took this week?

Next week, on inspired action for imperfect humans, you know, where they saw, um, uh, this, this, um, piece of Singleton single singleism come out. Um, uh, fervently in the last two years was during COVID because there were more exceptions made for people who are working at home with children.

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