Success Tweet 36: Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden passed away last Friday.  He was 99 years old.  Recently, he was named as the best American sports coach ever.  Vince Lombardi was second.  John Wooden was not only a great basketball coach.  He was a great man.  He had things in perspective.  His players all say that he taught them more about life and career success than he did about basketball.  I have many of his books on success in my library. 

John Wooden defined success in the following manner…

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

This is great common sense life and career success advice.  Please keep it in mind as you read my posts.  I agree with Coach Wooden.  You can never be a failure if you can honestly say to yourself that you always did the very best you could.

On to today’s post…

My latest career success coach book, Success Tweets: 140 Bits of Common Sense Career Success Advice, All in 140 Characters or Less is now available on and in bookstores.  I am in the process of blogging about each of the tweets in it. You can get a free copy of Success Tweets at  If you like it, I’d appreciate a positive review on

Today’s career success coach post is on Tweet36…

Don’t be afraid to fail.  You fail only if you don’t learn something from the experience.  Treat every failure as an opportunity to grow.

Fear is the enemy of self confidence – and career success.  Most people fear failure, criticism and rejection.  It’s only normal.  We all want to feel good about ourselves.  Failure, criticism and rejection are not pleasant experiences.  They lower our self esteem and make us feel bad about ourselves; so we often avoid doing things that we think might lead to failure, criticism or rejection.  However, if you want to create the life and career success you want and deserve, you have to have the courage to do things that might result in failure, criticism or rejection.

Failure, criticism and rejection provide you with the opportunity to grow and develop – to succeed.   You can’t take failure, criticism and rejection personally.  Failure, criticism and rejection are outcomes.  They are a result of things you have done.   They are not who you are.  We all make mistakes and fail.  We all do things that cause others to criticize or reject us.  This doesn’t mean that we are failures.  It means that we have made some poor choices and done some not so smart things.

Failure, criticism and rejection provide the opportunity to start over – hopefully a little smarter.  Buckminster Fuller once said, “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence of trial and error experience.  Humans have learned only through mistakes.”

That’s why fear is the enemy of self confidence and career success.  Take it from a career success coach.  If your fear of failure, criticism and rejection paralyzes you to the point where you aren’t willing to take calculated risks, you’ll never learn anything or accomplish any of your goals.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you fail, or when others criticize of reject you.  My best career advice is to put your energy into figuring out why you failed and then do something different.  Here are four career success coach questions to ask yourself the next time you fail, or get criticized or rejected.

  1. Why did I fail?  Why did I get criticized or rejected?  What did I do to cause the failure, criticism or rejection?
  2. What could I have done to prevent the failure, criticism or rejection?
  3. What have I learned from this situation? 
  4. What will I do differently the next time?

If you do this, you’ll be using failure, criticism and rejection to your advantage.  In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says, “Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” 

I know it’s hard to see the benefit or opportunity in failure, criticism and rejection.  But it’s there – you just have to look hard enough.  But it all begins by facing your fear and acting.  The less you fear failure, the more career success you’ll create.

I am proud of my niece Brett.  A little over a year ago, she left a good job in Florida and moved to San Diego.  She had no job lined up in San Diego when she moved, but that’s where she wanted to live.  Some members of the family thought she was silly to leave a good job to move across the country with no job.  I thought that she demonstrated amazing optimism and courage in making such a long move in such a difficult economy.  Brett wasn’t afraid to fail.  17 days after she arrived in San Diego she landed a job as an account manager for an athletic apparel manufacturer.  She has since received two promotions.  I’m proud of Brett.  She didn’t let her fear of failure, criticism or rejection stop her from pursuing her dreams.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Successful people are self confident.  Self confident people face their fears and act.  They follow the career advice in Tweet 36 in Success Tweets.  “Don’t be afraid to fail.  You fail only if you don’t learn something from the experience.  Treat every failure as an opportunity to grow.”  Follow this career advice.  Choose to find — and use — the learning opportunity in your failures and you will become more self confident and successful.   It’s sad but true – failure, criticism and rejection are often the price you pay for becoming a career success.  Facing your fear of failure, criticism and rejection — and then taking action will pay big dividends when it comes to your life and career success.

That’s my take on the career advice in Tweet 36 in Success Tweets.  What’s yours?  What have you learned from facing your fears?  How has it helped you become more self confident?  How has it contributed to your life and career success?  Please leave a comment sharing your story with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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