Fear of Failure

Jan 23, 2016

Fear of Failure


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #3 Rite of Passage Two -Acquisition-

  1. Have you tried as hard as you knew how and still failed, even to the point of being punished unjustly? Later on did you back off rather than lose the “race”?

Blog Jan 23I was nine years old and tall for my age. The prep school I attended was bulging with boys younger than I so I was booted up into the senior school, way before my time.

Academically I was seriously behind and I tried hard to catch up with my eleven year old classmates. I did not do well and frustrated teachers would order me out to sports practice in which I had some talent.

My fellow students were not amused by my efforts to please the masters and accused me of “sucking up to the teacher” which was, in their eyes, a dreadful crime.

I was arraigned before a “court of my peers” and sentenced to be ‘beaten with a plank’ … a ceremonial chunk of timber kept for the purpose in an old locker.

Their disapproval hurt far worse than the instrument. I was sandwiched between two sets of observers; both of whom found me a failure…and for understandable reasons.

My sole recourse was to try, less obviously, not to fail…always aware that I quite possibly would continue to do so.

The real crunch came on the athletic field where I had been able to succeed as the fastest boy in my age group (all older than me!)

In the finals of the 100 yards I ran alongside a new boy who was really fast. At the 50 yard point it became clear to me that my early lead was coming to an end. I could hear him just over my shoulder.

I couldn’t lose here too…then I’d have NOTHING!

I put one foot before the next and tripped myself -hitting the track with a wallop! I had failed but others saw it as a simple accident.

When you read my story almost all the way through you will see a faint copy of this ‘throwing-of-the-race’ where I would choose to retire rather than compete…and possibly fail?


I’ve come to understand that failing really isn’t so bad. It’s much better than throwing the race. I’ve learned so much by failing and doing so quite frequently it seems! I’ve learned how good it is to really try to engage some seemingly impossible task and get creative joy in the attempt.

Fear of failure used to rob me of that joy. I’m so glad it’s gone and along with it the false pride that’s been replaced by honest purpose.

By trying to regain resilience for us all I may be seen as failing but in my heart there is such wonder in the shared attempt.

Don’t be afraid to fail…go for it…it’s such fun to keep running!

Upstreaming on purpose…



  1. Margie Says: 12:15 pm

    Since I was in kindergarten, I wanted a horse of my own. My parents would not get me one; they said I was just going through a “phase”. Finally, when I was in the 9th grade, my father told me he would get me a horse if I got straight A’s in school. I never studied so hard in my life! I didn’t get straight A’s and I did not get a horse. I did make the honor roll for the first time, but this did nothing to soothe me. After that, I was just a mediocre student.

  2. Mike . Says: 8:00 pm

    Failure often reveals what won’t work. The only way to discover what WILL work is to make another attempt a different way. Failure often is also a moment of self-discovery. Through failure we find out what we are really made of.

  3. Kathy Beebe Says: 6:51 pm

    Thank you Graham! Very good story… Appreciate your insight as always! Love Kathy Beebe

  4. Dianne Says: 5:45 pm

    I understand what you mean by giving up, I’ve always found that so much easier, BUT harder to live with the constant self worthlessness, it can really take a strong hold of you & it can make your life miserable, always laughing on the outsides but crying on the insides, especially when your siblings seem so much stronger brighter & better looking, I’m so thankful for Jesus’s love & forgiveness, he has never given up on me, & I’ve given him many reasons too, so now I have learned to love myself warts & all, thanks Graham for sharing, it’s a relief to know that even the great have hard times & come out stronger, Bless you

  5. Sally Says: 1:06 pm

    All my life I was failing, well according to my mother! But I just kept on running, leaving home at 16 and making some terrible mistakes while forging forward. I always aimed higher that I thought I could do, sought after jobs I wasn’t sure I could fulfill, and, yes, that creative joy when I did succeed was grand. I thrilled when I knew I had made a difference is someone’s life, brought a smile or some joy to the world. My problem lies in keeping the momentum, in braving a new and scary world at an age where most of my peers are bathing in their own businesses, homes and families, where I doubt my talents and am tired of the race. Fear of failure, in fact, fear itself is crippling, when there is no safety net, no rescue in sight, and yet, I have this burning desire to make something really significant of my life and my contribution to this world. I will use you as my inspiration Graham, and believe that it’s ok to try, fail, try again and maybe succeed.

  6. Jean N Sozio Says: 1:45 am

    I fortunately was never in this vein but my husband was – just as you – from his early childhood. In his era, dyslexia, autism, and ptsd were unexplored conditions where insufficiency was determined as failure and futile. He struggled with an inborn inability to comprehend our confusing language and coupled with equally ignorant parents and strict “discipline” was thrust into a blackhole of insecurity, frustration, and anger. It was as a result of our union that he found confidence in himself through my confidence in him. Eventually he found God had confidence in him too and by faith trusting God proved to be an anchor never to be moved and success never to fail. As the Bible tells us of God’s presence: “when I am weak then HE is strong” & “Love never fails”.

  7. Bud McDole Says: 8:55 pm

    Hello Graham. You write with such a delightful swing! We’ve met over at the Warm Beach Senior Community so I’m following your blog with particular interest. I commend you for your ingenious idea of blogging with the “hook” of getting your readers to ping back to you. So here’s my feed back such as it is.
    First, I can imagine that you are feeling the stark vacuum of having your beautiful and faithful companion missing from your side. I lost my precious wife of 60 years just six years ago and I know how you’re feeling. But God is good and he’ll see you through! Even with your thousands of friends and followers it’ll be a while until you can see the silver linings on the clouds that are still hovering over you. It’s great you’ve taken on this new “daily” venture to keep busy and to invite others to stay in touch with you in such a clever way.
    I haven’t read your book yet but it’s on my bucket list. I want to respond to your feeling of failure which you have addressed today. Throughout my life I’ve been invited (or somewhat forced) into many opportunities to lead or serve most of which have been frightfully over my head. Two things have given me great strength and encouragement. The first was the declaration that “God does extraordinary things with ordinary people”! The other was the haunting question that keep coming square into my face, “Why not me?”. These two confirming pillars have been extremely helpful to me but I’ll be quick to add that a timely “Dale Carnegie Speech Training Course” was also instrumental in honing my communication skills.
    I’m looking forward to your next Blog and would love to see you in our community again! God bless you.
    Bud McDole

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *