#9 – The Fear of Failure and Blame

Hi everyone!  My apologies if you’ve been checking in finding me AWOL.

The past few weeks have been VERY busy.  Plus, I’ve been working on #9 in the ongoing Battle of the UNs, Conquer a Fear.  I had hoped to finish battling the UNs by the end of summer, but the last few tasks on the list are taking some time, particularly #9.

For #9, I did some deep thinking about my fears and determined that I have two.

# 1 – Chatting with someone on the Internet, arranging to meet them in person, and then realizing they are completely psycho.  My #1 fear is getting famous on the nightly news as “Missing Woman Found Stuffed in Port-a-Pot by Internet Stalker.”



I’m not sure how to conquer this fear, so I decided to move on to fear #2.

#2 – Trying to be successful and failing.  I thought about this fear for a while and determined that the Fear of Failure is a misplaced fear.  It’s not the Fear of Failure that I’m afraid of…it’s the Fear of Blame.

There should be nothing to fear about trying something and failing.  You start a business and it flops.  You run and race and come in last.  You publish a book that doesn’t sell.  You put $10 on black and the roulette wheel stops on red.  So what.  It didn’t work out.  Who cares!?!  Just move on and try something else.  Failure not a legitimate fear…it happens all the time…every day…to everyone.  So, what is the real fear?


I think it’s the Fear of Blame.  The fear of criticism.  The fear that someone…or lots of people…will look at our failed attempts and call us out on them…saying the reason we failed is because we’re not smart enough, or not talented enough, or didn’t apply ourselves.

The Fear of Blame has a power over me.  In a good way, it pushes me to do my best at work and to follow through on my commitments.  In a bad way, it terrifies me from stepping out of my comfort zone.

Over the past few weeks, I’m taken a few steps out of that zone.  I agreed to speak at a National Conference at the end of October.  I proposed an idea to a client that was really thinking out of the box.  I agreed to write an article that a lot of my peers will read.  And, over the past eight weeks I’ve been intensely training to get myself back in shape.

If I fail, people might point a finger at me.  I might get embarrassed.  My confidence will probably get crushed.  But, that’s the worst that can happen.  I’m not going to end up homeless and no one is going to die.

If you need to conquer the Fear of Blame, ask yourself this….

“If I try this and fail, what’s the worst that will happen?”  If the worst is that you’ll be criticized and your feelings will be hurt, then don’t let the fear stop you!

On the other hand, if there’s a chance that you’ll lose your life at the bottom of a Jonny-Jon, then give into the fear and run the other way.

What is your biggest fear?  Does the fear of blame stop you from trying new things?

40 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by sidmilb on October 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    The fear of blame / criticism has stopped me from being “me.” I’m learning to shake that off and am loving it. Even when I fail. I get better with failure.


  2. Yaaaaaaaaay! It’s so great to see you back, Tracy!

    You’ve been very missed!

    And OMG…I CANNOT believe the topic of this wonderful post, because my post for Monday is somewhat similar, fear of failure? Or fear of success?

    Your #1 fear, I can totally understand because I’ve thought those same things before meeting someone I met on the Internet. Luckily, I’ve not run into any PSYCHO’S. LOVE the picture of the Port-a Pot you posted with that – HA!!!!!

    And your#2 fear, I can totally understand too because I’ve been there. And I think you nailed it is saying that it’s the fear of criticism. Also, (and without giving my total post topic away for Monday), for me it’s the fear of success because once I achieve success, the challenges get higher.

    But like you, I ask myself that same question…”But, that’s the worst that can happen. I’m not going to end up homeless and no one is going to die.”

    It’s odd, because I’m someone who fears, yet I do it anyway because I don’t like being afraid. Fear has been one of my best teachers in this life.

    GREAT post, girl! And BRAVA to you for stepping outside your comfort zone and speaking a the National Convention. I bet you were AWESOME too!

    Enjoy your weekend!



    • Thanks for the “yaayy”; so sweet.

      I almost can’t wait to read your next post on Monday’s Vent! For me too, I feel that the higher on the ladder of life you climb, the greater the outside expectations, the more risky the challenges, and the greater chance for failure and criticism. It’s a good thing I’m not that high – heh. Hollywood stars get slammed for wearing the wrong designer or going out in the public without makeup, for goodness sake! That’s a hard bar to live up to in life.


      • Posted by sidmilb on October 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

        And THIS is why I no longer allow the paparazzi in my home. You should see me now watching football, and contemplating a quick trip to the nearest store for queso, and chocolate chip cookie fixins…. I may not LOOK like Gwyenth Paltrow, right now, but my home smells FANTASTIC.


        • ….you crack me up, Sid. The sad part is that I don’t look like Gweneth either…and my home doesn’t smell fantastic. I better get to work on one of those…and cleaning the house sounds so much easier!

    • Um… i was just gonna say that… um, you and ron are sharing brains this week!


  3. I hear you, Tracy – and you’re right. I’ve often heard this from people close to me, “You’re going to fail, and when you have, don’t come running to me.”

    Part of me has become stronger, more determined to succeed as a result, but part of me has been terrified to step out because, if I fail, I’d have nowhere to run and hide to lick my wounds. However, I’ve met more and more others who have helped me realize that I CAN succeed! Not because of a fear of failure, but because I have the ability/talent/character, and what I need is to believe in myself like they do, and change my world that way – That inspires you forward rather than terrifying you forward. The first one is a much more fun way to travel this journey called life.

    Yes, I’m still afraid sometimes, but nowadays I’m confronted with not having much other choices and, as hard as that is, it’s probably pushing me forward where otherwise I might never have gone. And THAT makes it all worthwhile. But I’m still learning though.


  4. Oh, by the way… I was just on your site this morning wondering whether you’ve posted and I missed it somehow… 😉 Nice to read you again!


  5. The fear of failure has kept me from doing some things that I should’ve in the past.


    • ….but it doesn’t have to stop you in the future. From reading your blog, I don’t think fear stops you that often. You’ve come through a lot, do so many GREAT things, and are a bright shining star!


  6. I often find myself in a “leadership” position. Nobody likes negative criticism when they work to do a good job. It is often necessary to sort out people’s feelings, and expectations and what is actual feedback on what you do. You can’t please everyone.

    What do I fear? Hmmm… spiders. And the kind of mob mentality that leads to horrific things… like witch trials and the Holocaust.


    • The snakes I fear will EAT your spiders.

      I can identify with your “leadership” comment. Accepting criticism as constructive is not always easy, but can totally change a person’s perspective and reaction to it….pushing you forward instead of slapping you back.


  7. In Miami there’s always that all too frequent drive-by shooting


    • Yikes! The sad thing is that this can happen anywhere. Even here in Pittsburgh there’s a shooting on the news almost every day. At least you have a beach! Sharks are up there on my “fear” list.


  8. VERY timely post for me as I’ve recently had to close my photography studio (so yes, I’ve opened a business and FAILED). Not sure what to do next and I thought it was the fear of failure crippling me BUT now, have to agree with the fear of blame thing. Sigh. I was so much stronger (and fearless) when I was younger. I would try ANYTHING and experienced some success. Now that I’m older, and have a few failures under my belt, it IS harder to summon up the courage to try again. Something to think about for sure.


    • Thanks for this comment. Lots of small businesses are struggling, mine included. I’m afraid to be blamed if it closes, and I know that fear prevents me from taking risks to improve the bottom line. As I said, I fear BLAME for the failure so much more than the failure itself. Sounds like you and I both need to get over that fear!!!

      Don’t let the closure of your studio deter you; take whatever lessons came from the experience and apply them to the next venture. The only mistake that can be made is not learning and not moving on.


  9. I had that fear of people on the internet at first too, but after the first conference or two, I stopped worrying. I think my biggest fears come from the fact I don’t express myself as well in person as I can in writing. It’s frustrating because sometimes you have to sell your prospective written work by selling yourself verbally first. I don’t like it!


    • I wonder if your fear (of expressing yourself in person) is common for writers? For me, when I write I have time to think about the words and go back and edit them. There’s comfort in that. However, in person there is no going back and editing words once they’ve flown out of your mouth…I hate that too!


  10. Having just self-published my first novel, The Secrets They Kept, I am caught between two fears. Fear of failure and fear of success. I’ll let you know how it goes!


  11. Joanne, sorry for just budding in here, but I’ve just completed my first book manuscript (not a novel though). I’m looking into the next step now and can’t yet decide which route to go with the publishing. Could I perhaps get in touch with you; maybe I can learn some from your experience? I’m really just groping in the dark still.


  12. Posted by suzicate on October 10, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Fear of criticism is a biggie…no matter how much we claim not to care what others think, deep down most of us do. I tend to take one step forward and two back on that issue. Good luck with your presentation.


    • Yes, it is a biggie…and moving past it is not easy. Keep stepping forward SuziCate!

      The presentation I’m giving is next week – there are 3,000 people attending this conference, so it’s a little nerve-wracking. They can pick and choose which lectures they attend, so I hope to get at least 100 people.


  13. Posted by pattisj on October 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    The fear of injury is what stops me most often. 🙂 Glad to see you back, Tracy, and that you’re still working on that list. Good job!


    • That’s a good one Patti, and a very rational fear. I’ve had back surgery and the fear of having another major injury is definitely on my list of top fears too.


  14. Posted by Stacey on October 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Tracy, I think you nailed this one. My biggest fear is that people think I am more than I am and that somehow I will prove them wrong. I have been lucky to have an amazing support system throughout my life: people who think I can do ANYTHING. I am the one that is not so sure….am I smart enough, tough enough…I so want to give them evidence they are right but so afraid that we will ALL be disappointed. Something to work on.


    • You have nothing to prove to anyone, girl. Just keep being who you are and there is no way you will ever fail your friends and family, me included. 🙂


  15. I’m totally with you on Fear of Blame.

    And although Fear of Meeting Someone From the Internet is a little scary, the nice people outnumber the psycho ones.


  16. ahhh. well i can certainly relate to this post.

    fear paralyzes me. it’s kept me from a lot of things in life. i wish it motivated me instead… but the blame comes in with me and being a people pleaser. i want everyone to be happy and satisfied with what i’ve done at all times. which is never possible and makes me effectually lose my marbles.

    i mean, obviously. you know this if you’ve read even one of my blogs. haha

    congrats on the speaking!!!! and you’re absolutely right, what’s the worst that could happen? and more importantly, what’s the best that could happen?? focus on that.


    • As time goes by, I’m getting more fearless about some things…and more fearful of others. Blame is a fear that I’m working on conquering. Can’t please everyone all the time, ya know.

      …nothing wrong with a loose marble or two…keeps life interesting and fun…just don’t let them roll away. 🙂


  17. Posted by Bonnie on October 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I love this post, Tracy! Turns out you and I think alot alike. Fear of blame has always been a constant struggle for me. I worry too much about what others think, always have, and my mother is the same way. But you’re right, you can’t please everyone all the time. I need to keep telling myself that! My biggest fear is extreme heights. As much as I love mountains, even riding on roads with super drop-offs makes me almost panicky. I’ve always admired people who don’t have acrophobia!


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