Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fear of Failure

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of
power and love and a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

The Fear of Failure. I've read that statistically, most people fear public speaking more than anything else. But I beg to differ.

I believe people fear failure the most.

I know for me, I allowed failure to hold me down for too many years. I can look back now and see how many years were wasted because of my fear.

A friend posted the 2008 commencement speech given by J.K. Rowling titled "The Fringe Benefits of Failure" on Facebook. As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think about my own failures and how they eventually led to my personal growth.

I was paralyzed by my failure. I had allowed it to keep me from moving forward. What was that failure?

When I started college back in 1985, it didn't take me long to realize how miserable I was. I wanted to attend the university  up north, but they didn't give me a scholarship and this local college did. So, I went. And I hated it right from the beginning.

My father had to pay for most of my tuition not covered by my scholarship. But I abused that privilege and started to fail classes for the first time in my life. Usually, I was an A student, now I was making C's and D's even in my art classes.

So, my dad stopped paying for my college. I had to quit school, get a full time job, and a few months later I was married. Soon all my high school friends were graduating from college...but I wasn't.

I felt like a failure.


Years later, when I talked to my favorite Aunt about what happened, she asked me why I don't just go back to school. I gave her every excuse in the world, but she kept encouraging me to go back. One thing she said I would never forget: "You'll have your degree and that's one thing they can never take away from you." God used my Aunt to kick me out of that groove!

I felt that fire burn within me and early that next year, I went back to school. It was hard, the money was tight, I had to work a part time job as a janitor scrubbing floors and toilets to pay for gas and supplies, but with my family's help and the Lord's willingness, I did it.

Oh, there were many times I wanted to quit and almost did, but God put teachers in my path who inspired me to keep on going. For me, success equals completion. And I didn't have that yet. So, that's what motivated me to keep going!

Now, I not only have my B.A. in Visual Arts, but I also have my Masters in Education.

And many doors have opened for me as a result.

I had to hit rock bottom, as J.K. Rowling put it in her speech, but from down there I looked up and saw the way out. The Lord moved me forward and I never looked back.

So, failure can be that catalyst to push you forward through the miry pit or it can paralyze you and keep you from going anywhere.

I advise you get over that fear of failure...move forward...and complete that goal!  Life is too short to stay in that miry pit.

Get moving! Get success! And tell others your story....



  1. I do fear failure, but I'm learning--slowly--to be defined by whose I am, not what I achieve.

    I love your story of overcoming. It's truly inspiring, and I know that you'll inspire loads of people (and kids especially) as you speak to them about what you faced.

    1. Thanks Lindsay! Yes, each of us should have our own definition of what success is.

      I admire your story too. You worked hard for your education. It will pay off, I promise!

      Thanks for visiting!

  2. Ruth - it's cool to chat with a fellow Phoenician and educator. For me, success = profit. Not that I'm a greedhead. If I loved money, I never would have become a teacher. But knowing that I have a growing, paying audience for the book is my definition of suceess. I'm not there yet.

    Good luck with Dragon Forest.

    1. Love your honesty Joseph! Good luck to you as well. Thanks for visiting!