How To Stop A Fear Of Failure Holding You Back by Lucianne Lewis

fighting the fear

Lucianne Lewis is a mum of two who writes honestly about all things parenting on her blog

After four years as a Stay At Home Mum and now with her youngest daughter about to start nursery, she said, ‘I am more than ready to get my career back on track but I first need to get over my own fear of failure’.

Here is her advice to herself and other mums who are in the same boat.


How To Stop A Fear Of Failure Holding You Back

Pre-kids, I harboured a secret dream of running my own business when I went on maternity leave, mainly because I clearly had N.F.I what having your first baby entailed.

4 years into parenthood, I now have the opportunity to work for myself in a flexible role while the children are in nursery. I have a supportive husband too so in short I have nothing to lose, so why am I stalling? Simple, I have a debilitating fear of failing.  

I am not alone, in the UK only 1/2 of women who planned to become self employed after their maternity leave actual did*.

People only have a finite amount of time, money and energy. No one is more aware of that than parents of young children.

Focusing time, money and energy on something other than your children is a risk, especially if when it comes to the uncharted territory of a new business venture. 

Here are 3 famous pieces of advice on turning the fear of failure to your advantage:
1.  ‘Failure is success in progress’

Who doesn’t love a good Albert Einstein quote? The word ‘science’ comes from the Latin word ‘to know’. Failure then is simply part of the investigative process in improving and is not something to be avoided. Re-framing failure as, ‘success in progress’ makes clear that mistakes are part of the development process rather than the final outcome. Remembering this will keep you motivated. 

Nikki Cochrane Co-founder and CEO of Digital Mums sees failure as an integral part of their success:

‘When you are doing something for the first time that no one has ever done before, you have to expect an element of failure and as a result you will be enriched with a whole heap of learning and insights which will make the next iteration even better. Failure also builds resilience and is the key to being a successful entrepreneur’.

If and when you experience failure, don’t pretend it didn’t happen by soldiering on regardless and blaming everyone else. Self-denial is the slippery slope to a Michael Jackson X Factor audition where you end up being carried off by security!

Apply the Digital Mums ‘Test, Measure, Reflect and Refine‘ approach to your business. 

Having a detailed plan broken into small manageable steps helps reduce the fear of failure as potential setbacks and recovery from them become obvious.  

Build in enough flexibility so that when things change, as they inevitably do when opportunities arise, you can adapt. You may lose a battle, but you won’t lose the war.


2. ‘Worrying About The Future Is As Effective As Trying To Solve An Algebra Equation By Chewing Gum’.

-Sage words from Baz Luhrmann, the godfather of movies and sage advice.

Success is the result of hard work and luck but only one of these is within your control. If you’re working around your family, life doesn’t give you much time to waste so focus on what you can do with your current resources rather than worrying about what you can’t. Try not to worry about the future either, growing your business and confidence step by step. This frame of mind will also put you in the best place to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. 

According to Sam Akbar, clinical psychologist and founder of, ‘Fear of failure is worse than actual failure because you imagine worse outcomes than are actually likely to happen. When you imagine failure, your brain reacts as though it’s really happening, which is counter productive’.

I spent 9 months bricking it about becoming a mum, especially the opening scene but when it happened I just got on with it, not because I was suddenly transformed into some kind of super woman but because I didn’t have time to think. Make a to-do list of productive distractions so that when you start procrastinating you can start ticking them off.

Do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t control.


3. Fear Is The Mother Of Foresight’

A favourite quote by Thomas Hardy

Fear of failure is a tough one to admit as social media aimed at mums repeats these two messages, ‘You can do it’ and ‘You are enough’.

While these motivating slogans are hugely empowering, they dismiss failure and make it feel like a taboo subject. 

A fabulous and wildly intimidating mum friend who happens to be a partner at a hugely successful media company admitted that she still struggles with crippling anxiety:

‘Taking 8 months off work for maternity leave made it really hard to go back. I was so nervous and anxious, it was like being back at square one when I had first started working. It got easier, having kids definitely put my fear of failing at work into a perspective’.

We all think everyone else is gliding through life when in reality they have their own gremlins to contend with.         

It is OK to fear failure, it shows an understanding of the risk we’re undertaking and the consequences of our actions. Being conscious that failure is an option will help you to mitigate risks and increase the chances of being successful. When you start to see yourself as a failure that’s when it becomes debilitating, and ironically when you are most likely to fail though inertia. 

We are born with an ability to fail, it is how we are programmed to learn. As a mum, I see that every day in how my children learn to walk, talk, eat and play. Somewhere along the line, we unlearn this because society conditions us reject failure and strive for success. It is then, only natural that we begin to fear failure and when it does happen, we see it as a reflection of our self-worth.  Talking about your fears with others, whether with friends or a qualified therapist can be a huge help as it naturalises failure and a problem shared and all that!… 

What is the worst that can happen if your solo business venture doesn’t succeed, anyway?

‘What if I fall?’

‘Oh but my darling, what if you fly?’ 

Erin Hanson.


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