Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Controlling Fear of Failure

Do you block SUCCESS if you’re scared to fail? It’s ridiculous, but trying to avoid what worries you can impede succeeding. Before being published, I made excuses for not going after a book deal. The truth was, I was terrified my dreams would evaporate if editors didn’t like my writing. It felt better to write than to pursue a publisher. Fear of rejection choked me.

Failure sounds awful on the surface. It represents shattered dreams.


I talked about getting published but never sent a manuscript out. It took years to develop enough confidence to do it. Failure teaches. When twenty publishers passed on my second book, I found an agent who helped me rewrite my proposal and got a GOOD deal two weeks later.

Before I was published, I made excuses for not trying to get a book deal. The truth was, I was terrified that if editors didn’t like my writing, my dreams would evaporate. It felt better to go through the motions of working on my books than to pursue a deal. The thought of being rejected in the bigger picture of my career kept me stuck. So I wrote and talked about getting published but didn’t even send my manuscripts to editors or try to get an agent.


It took years to develop enough confidence in my ability to write well before I pursued a deal. I still got rejected by many editors but by then I’d learned that failures are stepping stones to SUCCESS. It’s hard to succeed if you don’t fail sometimes too. Failures teach us. When one of my books was turned down by 20 publishers, I found an agent who gave me tips in presenting the concepts better in the proposal. I got a deal two weeks later. It made me better at what I do.

SUCCESS is NOT avoiding failure. By conquering fears, we give ourselves permission to succeed.

Hannah came to me for self-empowerment counseling because she felt no joy. She’s a graphic designer and wanted to open her own business. Before taking a full time gig she tried, but couldn’t find enough clients. Then she went the other extreme. Nights and weekends were filled with freelance clients along with a full time day job. Friends advised quitting her job but she was afraid of failure for her own biz. I asked when she’d get a life. She indignantly insisted she had one. I pointed out she left no time for pleasure.


Hannah looked at me like I’d thrown water on her. She was so busy with a full time job and trying to juggle an almost full time business that she had no down time. Or fun! She said she was afraid her business would fail. We did spiritual exercises and she focused on how many clients she already had. After we worked together, she gave notice at work and let clients know about her now full time business. Recommendations came and Hannah’s life is fun and satisfying!

Hannah learned she needed to develop clients by proving herself to be good. Then she was able to attract enough client to have a business. I encouraged her not to beat herself up for waiting so long. She had to prove to herself that she could do it. That meant doing graphic design for another company, and having private clients return and recommend others. That gave her the confidence to fly on her own.


You’re not a failure, IF you learn from what went wrong.

Think in terms of roadblocks to be overcome instead of the dreaded “F” word. Separate failing at something from seeing yourself as a failure. You can move past failures by continuing onto SUCCESS. But, thinking of yourself as a failure puts invisible shackles on your motivation to move forward. It’s important not to let your actions and experiences define you! Many of us need a kick to realize how fear of failure keeps you from succeeding! Avoiding failure keeps you from taking the risks needed to succeed.

So you self-sabotage achieving SUCCESS by letting fear of failure stop you from going for it.


Think in terms of roadblocks that can be overcome instead of giving in to thoughts of the dreaded “F” word. It’s so important not to let your actions and experiences define you! Reinterpret what happened and put it into a more realistic framework. You can help yourself to not feel like a failure and to grow from your experiences if you reframe situations and grow from your experiences by asking:
• What would I say to a friend in this situation to make her or him feel better?
• Are there any earth shattering consequences that will ruin my life?
• Am I willing to let a momentary failure ruin my whole life?
• What didn’t I pay attention to?
• What did I do well or right?
• What one thing do I now see that I could have done differently?
• What are better options for handling a similar situation?
• What baby step can I take to begin again?
• What would it take for me to accept that a mistake doesn’t make me a failure?


If you take a failure personally, get into the habit of telling yourself to stop it—out loud! Keep what doesn’t go right in perspective. Do you try to succeed, or just avoid failure? When you focus on not failing, you stay in a rut. Get out there are go for SUCCESS instead!

In the last years I’ve been a pillar of non-failure. Yep, not one failure in many years. Are you jealous? Hello! You can live failure-free too. Memorize this – IF YOU DON’T QUIT, YOU CAN’T FAIL!!! I never fail if I don’t stop trying. Mistakes don’t mean failure. They teach you what doesn’t work. Thomas Edison said, “Results! Why man I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that don’t work.” Look what he accomplished! If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough! If what you try doesn’t work, you have no less than before. Not being afraid to try is an accomplishment! Appreciate that and try again.


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  • Blessed

    Hi Daylle,Thank you for this inspiring information. I think I fall into this trap often. In fact, I am doing it with the very same thing -I am delaying proposing a book idea, Corvette Girl, a creative writing piece I did for my thesis because I am afraid of all kinds of failures. Will I be able to complete the entire book (I only have half written!), what if they don’t like it, what if it’s published and it doesn’t do well, will I be able to handle a baby and a book at the same time (we’re going to start trying this year for a little one!) It just goes on and on. I’ll keep your tips in mind though and try to muster up the courage to give it a go!Thanks!DeniseBlessings from Above

  • Ellen

    What a great post! I wrote something similar at the same time, about people letting fear stop them from attending my singles events. When we do something scary, it’s a tremendous success, even if it doesn’t go as well as we’d like. And how good we feel about ourselves when we walk through the fear! When I get scared, I ask myself “what’s the worst that can happen?” and it’s usually nothing significant at all. I hate to think about what we miss when we allow fear to dictate our actions…much better to do it anyway, be brave, and enjoy the rewards! Little steps, one at a time!xo

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Glad this helped you Denise! The worst that can happen if you try is you learn things that can help when you try again. You’re so right Ellen! I feel successful just for having taken the first step, because it is a SUCCESS. Keep up your good work!

  • Gigi Maranzki

    This gives me a lot to think about. I greatly appreciate all the insight in your blog. Thanks Daylle!

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Happy you found it helpful Gigi! Opening your eyes is success!

  • Ralph

    Great insight. It is strange how we often avoid the one aspect in life that we can learn the most from. The growth on the other side of failure can be amazing but most miss the opportunity because they fear rejection or failure. Good stuff. Congrats.

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Thanks for stopping by Ralph! There are lessons in every experience if we look.

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