How To Find Courage Through Your Fear, Mistakes & Failure

courtesy of Oliver Cole and

Each day I wake up terrified. This state doesn’t improve much throughout the day, because this world we live in is a scary place.

I figure we’re all terrified, one way or another.

I suppose it’s in our DNA. It’s what kept us alive for generations, safe from lions and other animals ready to tear us apart. Today, we may not fear for our lives like our ancestors did, but we fear a lot nevertheless:

  • … failure
  • … letting people down
  • … letting myself down
  • … not earning enough money
  • … doing or saying something stupid
  • … what this person thinks
  • … what the other person thinks

I imagine you can relate to this right now (if not, you may wish to stop reading now). But assuming you do, I have a simple exercise that helps you break through this fear (that I personally use).

Because like you, I don’t consciously fear any of this.

I don’t wake up each morning wanting to fear what lies before me. I don’t enjoy my terrified state. But I am a human-being who does what human-beings do best: feel.

We both have that in common. We may ‘feel’ different to one another, but we both feel.

Every single person you know (no matter how ‘with it’ they be may be) feels.

Often, these feelings (these fears) are pointless.

They have no place, but that isn’t to say they don’t play a huge role in your future growth.

(at least, they potentially play a huge role in your future growth)

Why Fear is Often Good

For the most part, our fears are not rational. Our minds wander and dream-up the worst case scenario. We assume other people are talking about us. We presume they notice our mistakes. We analyze emails and conversations, and create narratives that may or may not exist.

Hint: most of the time they do not.

These fears are not rational, but they do provide an important vehicle of growth.

Because where there is fear, there’s the opportunity to develop courage:

  • The courage to carry on…
  • The courage to take a risk…
  • The courage to be true to yourself…

Fear, self-doubt, insecurity… it’s a part of life. We all juggle these to some degree, and I don’t think we ever stop. Life is hard. There are few guarantees. There’s little mercy. It hits you when you are down. It hurts you when you feel like you have no more hurt to give, and then continues to take from you anyway.


  • There are always lessons…
  • There is always opportunity…
  • There is always a chance to grow…
  • There is always room for a little more courage…

How To Find Courage Through Your Fear, Mistakes & Failure

Through fear, adversity, failure, or mistakes… you’re given the chance to evolve as a person. These obstacles help you figure out who you are; what your true values are.

It isn’t supposed to be easy. You aren’t supposed to just “get it”. You have to earn it, but you don’t earn it through ‘smarts’ or hard work, or even confidence and belief.

You earn it through courage.

  • The courage to search for what lies beneath…
  • The courage to question your beliefs…
  • The courage to take a chance and leap off the side of the building (figuratively, of course)…
  • The courage to learn; always learn!

You learn a lot about yourself when you fail. When scared, you learn even more. The problem is, these lessons do not reside on the surface. They’re hidden beneath your fear, and only you can find them.

But to find them, you must dig.

This is how…

STEP #1: Write Down Your Three Biggest Fears.

These can be phobias, or they could be what you fear on a daily basis (to do with your work, maybe, or your relationship). Just take a little time to get escape your head, and consider what you’re scared of.

(and be honest with yourself)

You fear these things for a reason, and it’s up to you to decide why you do.

(and whether you want to in the future)

STEP #2: Write Down Your Three Biggest Ever Failures.

Once you have your three fears, your next task is to think about your three biggest ever failures (they can be work related, or personal). Again, these failures don’t rest on the surface. You have more than likely blocked them out.

They’re hidden, because you hid them.

So if you want find them, you must search for them.


Because you have learned a great deal from these failures, not just in how to avoid them in the future, but dare I say about YOU, too. You are where you today due to your past failures and successes.

They are part of you, and it’s time to face them.

STEP #3: Visualise and Consume.

Once you have your two lists of three, it’s time to visualise each one of these fears and relive each one of your failures.

Let them in.

Let the thoughts devour you.

Consume them.

Don’t fight the pain.

For just a few minutes, allow them to attack you. You don’t have to write them down, and you don’t have to share them with anyone else. Allow them to surface, and feel what you feel.

STEP #4: Flip The Switch.

The final step is to flip the switch on these fears and feelings.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this fear or feeling real?
  • Is this worth worrying about right now… can it hurt me?
  • Can I do anything about this situation or fear or feeling in the next few minutes?
  • Do I want to feel like this in the future… am I happy feeling this way?

Often, we accept our fears, feeling, thoughts and beliefs as gospel. In our eyes, they are real. We don’t question them, but this is what you need to do (all the time).

Because it’s questioning your fears and feelings that builds the courage you need.

Asking the question may not give you the answer, but it may give you enough of one to realise it isn’t real (or at least, not as real as you make it out to be). With this, you can commit to taking a single step in the right direction.

You can flip the switch.

You can take control.

This is the point of this exercise: to take control of your fears and feelings so they no longer control you.

Courage… it’s all you need.

With courage, you progress.

You take one step after another, and you overcome it (whatever “it” may be).

This isn’t a magic formula to rid fear or insecurity from your life. I cannot vanish the possibility of failure or adversity from your future.

Nobody can offer you this.

But you can use these fears and failures to your advantage. You can flip the switch. You can develop courage out of your dark days, and you can stride towards your version of success.

(whatever this looks like)

It begins with step one, so what are you waiting for?

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