Anthony JW Benson On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Confidently Be Confident — Does your self-perception deserve a shift in conscious thought? If you genuinely believe in yourself… then act like it. If you don’t… act like it anyway. You can choose to change your self-defeating mindset and behavior, which can deeply realign any negative inner beliefs and conflicting life choices. By realigning your perspective and actions, you are ultimately setting a new course for how you walk this world — confidently, lovingly, consciously, and with clear intention.
The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.”
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Anthony J.W. Benson.
Anthony J.W. Benson has mastered the art of merging creativity, soul, and business. As a respected creative business strategist, manager, coach, producer, and writer, he serves his clients by skillfully guiding them to accomplish their goals and help manifest their dreams.
As a popular guest, Anthony shares his expertise on multiple stages, podcasts, and radio and television shows and has written for and been featured as an authority in numerous online and print publications. Learn more at anthonyjwbenson.com
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
My life had an inauspicious beginning. I was born in London, England, and experienced a near-fatal car accident that resulted in a split skull at age 2. Ear troubles left me deaf from age 2 to 6. I was sexually abused by someone in my neighborhood by age 7. I had my first alcoholic drink by age 8. Smoked my first joint by 14. I became a full-blown alcoholic, drug addict, and high school dropout living on my own by age 15. I was in and out of the Army, followed by a nervous breakdown by age 17. Homeless and living in my car by age 18. Broke, jobless, alone, and contemplating suicide all by age 19. Finally, as a last-ditch effort to save my life, I put myself in a treatment center and became sober at age 20. Then, finally, my life took a turn for the better.
Through all this, I embraced a vision of what life could be. I did the deep healing and therapeutic work to restore me to wholeness. I did not succumb to life’s challenges or let my fears and failures define me. Nor did I allow shame to devour me. Instead, I held fast to the knowledge that vision is the light in the darkness — the beacon of strength that would help carry me towards true self-realization, personal growth, and empowerment.
Despite my dysfunctional childhood, I was fortunate to be exposed to the arts, dance, music, and theater, thanks to my mother. This had a massive impact on me as I decided where my interest in my eventual career would be.
As my life evolved and I changed and grew, I embarked on a life of recovery, exploration, and creativity.
Professionally, I have been blessed to work in many creative and personal growth fields — music management and production, comedy writing, public relations, marketing, design, publishing, speaking/writing, consulting, and coaching. Many of which I do to this day.
The throughline in my life is that I am true to myself and my passions and do what I love — personally and professionally. And I NEVER allow my fears and failures to keep me down. Life is too short to settle for less than I deserve in any area of my life. These are tenets I live by, teach, and carry forth in all my work with clients.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I am a proponent of learning by doing. Virtually all I have accomplished in life is by doing and learning as I went. Due to challenging life circumstances, I was a high school dropout and haven’t been in a schoolroom since I was fourteen. So, hands-on and jumping into the fire of experience has always been my best teacher.
A good example was when I lived in Los Angeles, California, back in the late 1980s; I had the opportunity to produce a new music album. This era was when New Age music was making itself well known and creating a unique space in the music business. This album was an expensive and big project which included working with well-known musicians and gifted talent. Additionally, we recorded at Cherokee Studios, one of the top studios in Los Angeles, where artists like Rod Stewart, Power Station, and David Bowie had all recorded. Heady stuff indeed.
I was in my late 20s at the time — young and adventurous. I had never taken on a project of this magnitude and responsibility before. It would’ve been easy to be overwhelmed and allow fear to keep me stuck in emotional quicksand, preventing me from accomplishing my goals and this extraordinary experience. However, this album was an exciting opportunity for me — personally and creatively. I was not about to let fear get in the way of a professional and life experience so exciting and rewarding. Unbeknownst to all involved, I had no experience producing at this level.
So I called upon self-belief and trusted my intuition and creativity. Failure was not an option I was willing to embrace. Living life confidently is born of doing. Learning through action is an empowering experience that clarifies intention and incrementally shores self-belief, and eradicates self-doubt. Thus, I immersed myself in the totality of the situation, trusting myself and acting responsibly and professionally. And I had fun! Joy and passion often serve as the perfect antidote to fear and self-doubt.
Ultimately the recording sessions were enjoyable and successful and offered profound life and career lessons. If I hadn’t jumped into the deep end of the experience, I would never have had the opportunity to produce an album such as this. Likewise, I wouldn’t have worked with musicians and engineers of such high caliber in a once-in-a-lifetime situation.
I maintain that the best education is born in the moment of doing. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway is what got me successfully through this situation and across the finish line. I do my best to embrace this mindset in all I do. I trust myself knowing that belief sets the stage for accomplishment to shine.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I believe perseverance is adversity’s worst nightmare. Confronting and overcoming obstacles and challenges has been a mainstay in my life. As I shared earlier, my skull was cracked in a car accident at 18 months old. I became completely deaf from age two to age six. As a child, I also experienced sexual abuse and physical violence. Ultimately, I became a drug addict and alcoholic at a young age, eventually becoming homeless and contemplating suicide. I have dealt with significant loss and death in my life. I have also battled cancer and won.
So perseverance is part of my DNA. I can attest the challenges you overcome are tantamount to the personal growth you will experience. Showing up, being conscious of my thoughts and actions, and never giving up has been paramount to my success and, most importantly, my health and happiness.
There is always turmoil, tough decisions, lean times, moments of indecision, and surprises in life. So to successfully persevere in life, it is incumbent to trust the process, concentrate on your efforts and contributions and try not to control the results.
One of my personal mantras is to be open to being open. When interacting with the world, endeavor to be open to being open. Open to possibilities. Open to opportunities. Open to co-creation. Open to Love. Being open creates an environment where the unimaginable can, and usually does, happen.
I maintain if we remain closed off, shut down, and disconnected at any level, we limit or deny the potentialities in our lives. Openness is a form of expansion. Think of it as a welcome mat to the Universe, inviting any and all possibilities into our lives.
Adaptability is being able to ebb and flow with whatever life throws at you. Surprises, roadblocks, and adversity are a part of life. Conversely, frustration born from challenges creates a powder keg of self-created doubt and restrictions.
So when presented with the unexpected, find the calm inside the chaos, whether real or perceived. The turmoil around you need not be experienced within. Instead, remain centered and relaxed irrespective of outside influences and distractions, and peace will be yours.
The secret to adaptability is being flexible, self-adjusting, and living a little by throwing out the restrictive rule book. Instead, explore the fun and wonder to be had and experienced by metaphorically coloring outside the lines and traveling the path you create.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
Fear can be a projection of negative possibilities. The imagination runs wild with all that can possibly go wrong. Fear is often learned and triggered by two primary prompts. One is by osmosis. Our surroundings (People and places) profoundly affect how we behave and who we evolve into. If your family or social group lived fearful lives, you’d likely be or become easily frightened.
An example: You expose your mind and consciousness to content (Social Media, anyone?) that portrays all the uncertainty and scariness of living in an unpredictable and menacing world. As a result, unsurprisingly, you will be scared and frozen into inaction. The take-away? Surround yourself with fear; you, too, will embody fear.
Experience is the second fear catalyst. Experiencing a frightening life experience once or often can inform you mentally and physically on how to become fearful. Exposure to a threatening event or circumstance can imprint an indelible mark upon the body and psyche.
Of course, specific triggers and fear responses are warranted under particular circumstances. Such as, being the victim of bodily harm can cause a legitimate fear response. But so many fear triggers are self-created — our imaginations run rampant.
Ultimately, I believe fear is not the foe to fear. Fear can be fought and conquered. Insidious in its attack, self-doubt is the real worrisome enemy. To successfully battle back and overcome, one must put the time, energy, and effort into learning, evolving, and honing your skills. By loving yourself, trusting yourself, and believing in yourself, victory will be yours — and all that you wish to accomplish is possible.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Failure is often seen as a negative experience to be avoided at all costs. Yet, failure is where the most profound lessons lie. It’s important to remember choices beget choices. So we fail. We learn. We make new choices. We grow. We evolve. We fail again — repeat. Failure is an essential part of life’s journey. To deny it is to limit your life experience. It is better to embrace it and its value in our evolution and grow from it. The Japanese proverb “seven times down, eight times up” reflects the belief that failure or resistance in life is part of the process and not be defeated by it.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
Freedom from the fear of failure is a worthy aspiration. Effort, focus and commitment, and sometimes good fortune, will help you achieve your goals. Missing the mark is less of a concern than setting your sights and going after what you desire. Failure is often part of the learning curve. You will never hit your target if you don’t first take aim. Trust in your abilities.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
Most of my professional failures have been when I couldn’t accomplish all I wanted in my business relationships. Sometimes I fell short of my goals or underperformed to my clients’ or even my own expectations. Unfortunately, my reach sometimes exceeded my grasp in these circumstances, regardless of my good intentions. I could not overcome life challenges that interfered with my work performance in some of these situations. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, and sometimes, I did lose business or clients. Failure can often force-feed a big slice of a humble pie. And when it does, you best eat it, grow and learn — which I have done many times.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
From my perspective, the most important lesson when you experience failure is self-honesty, self-love and self-forgiveness. Which is what I endeavor to do when I have failed. We are human. We make mistakes. We rise. We fall. We succeed. We fail. We move on as life continues.
Though not always pretty, the truth is more readily accepted and learned when embracing self-awareness and accountability. You are not your failures. So, in any challenging situation, let alone one of failure, take a deep breath, calm any inner turmoil you may be experiencing, and surrender to the peace that is yours to live.
When I do fail, I do not spin into a shame spiral. Instead, I embrace the life lesson opportunity. Remember, given how complex and multi-faceted we all are, failure is an aspect of our life’s journey, not representative of who we are.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Confidently Be Confident
Does your self-perception deserve a shift in conscious thought? If you genuinely believe in yourself… then act like it. If you don’t… act like it anyway. You can choose to change your self-defeating mindset and behavior, which can deeply realign any negative inner beliefs and conflicting life choices. By realigning your perspective and actions, you are ultimately setting a new course for how you walk this world — confidently, lovingly, consciously, and with clear intention.
Living confidently is born of doing. Learning through action is an empowering experience that clarifies intention and incrementally shores self-belief, and eradicates self-doubt. Immerse yourself in the totality of your being, trust yourself, and reach beyond the confines of self-judgment. In doing so, you can then relax into the depths of self-awareness, contentment, and confidence.
2) Have Faith in Faith
Faith is belief in action. It’s essential to remember faith is belief in the process we are experiencing at any given moment that thrives on trust and interaction with ourselves, others, and the Universe at large. Faith need not be a religious or spiritual exchange. Faith, simply, is the ultimate commitment revealed in purposeful thoughts and actions. And sometimes, when we feel uncertain, our faith is shaken. So in these moments, and when in doubt, act as if and trust your intuition and even the unknown.
Faith is the bridge to travel. Belief in ourselves and our choices is the destination. Trust yourself and embrace what the Universe holds for you. Leave self-doubt behind. In any given moment, have faith, step into the expanse of the unknown, knowing that you are loved and supported — always.
3) Commit to Commitment
Are you committed to your vision and choices, no matter what life offers in challenges, setbacks, and successes? It’s imperative that you have a vision — a view beyond the horizon.
Half-ass efforts will guarantee half-ass results. So instead, immerse yourself in the totality of your being and commit fully to all you do. You will reach beyond the confines of judgment and relax into the depths of self-awareness, personal achievement, and contentment.
Commitment is a pledge of responsibility to oneself and any specific moment. Ultimately you will be rewarded with a well-earned feeling of personal achievement for your courageous thoughts and actions.
4) Risk, Taking Risks
So many people see risk as foolhardy. Yet risk-taking can be appropriate if deliberate, focused, and passionate. Risk can release us from the shackles of fear of failure and deliver us to the freedom of our true selves. And that’s integral to creating a life we want and, more importantly, a life we deserve.
“Impossible” often seems an impassable chasm in our daily lives from which we must retreat. But in reality, impossible is the daunting gaping hollow of self-doubt mired deep within us that must be doggedly trudged and conquered, so we may arrive upon the once thought unattainable shores of belief and accomplishment.
Taking risks keeps the impossibilities of life at bay. So, risk not, live fully not.
5) Honor Your Individuality
Release yourself from any societal and self-imposed constraints of normalcy. Doing what is expected, or being pedestrian, is the deepest boredom magnified multifold, thus unimaginative and ultimately unfulfilling. Instead, embrace independent creative freedom and soul-nurturing as the new dictum. Allow your imagination and heart to run wild and enjoy the journey.
Our journey is filled with unexpected highs and lows. All of which are but moments in time to be fully experienced, as well as deeply appreciated. As lessons are lived and learned, we are best served to remember to be true to who we are as unique individuals. With its challenges and rewards, personal growth is a never-ending trip on the roller coaster called life, and it’s up to us to choose to enjoy the ride.
There is always turmoil, tough decisions, lean times, moments of indecision, and surprises in life. So it is incumbent on you to trust the process, concentrate on your contribution and try not to control the results.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
This quote is open to interpretation. It is indeed possible to fail in many ways. But, I feel you can succeed in many ways as well. The act of succeeding can be experienced emotionally, energetically, physically, spiritually, etc. The circumstance informs the singularity or multitudes of experience. I believe Aristotle was speaking about the unique power and difficulty of succeeding. One of his other profound quotes is quite telling, “One may go wrong in many different ways, but right only in one, which is why it is easy to fail and difficult to succeed.” The message? Failure is much easier to accomplish than succeeding.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
May we all embrace the beauty, grace, and divine in each other with open hearts. I want to encourage love, acceptance, and understanding as a communal intention of shared consciousness providing comfort through living embodiment. So, to help eradicate divisiveness and hate — love, compassion, and acceptance of self and others is a worthy goal.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Oh, there are so many. But my first choice is Sir Richard Branson. I have respected his personal life and creative business path for years. His Virgin empire and other endeavors are impressive. I became a fan in the early 80s when I first went to a Virgin Record Store in Portsmouth, England. I purchased a collection of cassette tapes(!) by Tina Turner, Billy Idol, Lionel Ritchie, and Lords of the New Church. I loved the overall Virgin vibe. After my stay in England, I eventually flew back to the United States on Virgin Atlantic Airlines. It was, at the time, the best flight I had ever experienced. My meal was served in a basket! He did and continues to do things differently — literally outside the box.
Further, I have long admired his adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit. And I greatly appreciate and respect his honest view and experience with failure. Regarding failure, he has said, “I suppose the secret to bouncing back is not only to be unafraid of failures but to use them as motivational and learning tools… There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you don’t make the same ones over and over again.” Truth!
Finally, I would love to pick his brain and share a meal and conversation on his fantastic Necker Island. Perhaps one day he will invite me. There is no failure in dreaming!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers may learn more about me and my services via my websites anthonyjwbenson.com (While there they can sign up for my newsletter and receive my FREE ebook Living in Joy: Achieving Health, Happiness, & Harmony Amidst the Hustle & Bustle of Life) and injoicreative.com. I may also be found on Facebook (facebook.com/anthonyjwbensonbiz), Instagram (@anthonyjwbenson), Twitter (@anthonyjwbenson) and TikTok (@anthonyjwbenson) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/anthonyjwbenson).
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.