Pooja Dang is an Executive and Career Coach specializing in helping her clients to design and build a career they love with the help of customized coaching sessions and straight up, no nonsense advice. Are YOU ready to reinvent yourself? Let’s get started!


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How does the fear of failure impact your life?

Home / Fitness  / How does the fear of failure impact your life?

Everyone I’ve ever met has a fear of failure. Ask anyone, ‘what are you afraid of?’ and you’ll find that answers come spewing out quite easily.

Fear is a normal, natural and expected thing that keeps us in our safe zone. Unfortunately, it can also hold us back from discovering our potential.

Have you ever thought though, how your fears may be impacting your life? A saying by Tom Krause comes to mind:

‘If you only do what you know you can do – you never do very much.’


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Last weekend, I participated in a Powerlifting Competition. The truth is, it’s something that my coach has been encouraging me to do for the past 6 months. Not because I am such an outstanding lifter but rather just for the experience of it. My first reaction was a knot in my stomach.

Then my inner critic had a field day:

“I can’t really lift all that much…”

“What if I come in last?”

“What if I miss my lifts because I’m too nervous?”

I was initially overcome by my fear of failure. So I decided to coach myself through this. Whenever a client comes to me about a fear, I have them answer 3 questions:

1) What’s the worst that could happen?
2) What can you do to prevent that from happening?
3) In the event the worst-case scenario does happen, how will you get yourself out of the situation?
In my case, the worst that could happen is for me to miss all 9 lifts. It would be humiliating! The way to prevent that from happening was to pick weights that I had lifted several times during training (something challenging but doable) – after all the goal was to have the experience of the competition, nothing else. And, in the event my nerves got the best of me and I missed all the lifts, I realized the world wouldn’t end. It takes a lot of courage to just be up there on the platform lifting in front of everyone. I would be proud of myself just for doing that. And I know that everyone watching would feel the same way.

Here’s the thing: experiences are what enrich our lives. Sure it’s great when you are good at something and you do it. But sometimes doing something outside of your comfort zone…just for the experience of doing it, is the best thing for you.

Had I not competed, I would have missed out on a series of wonderful opportunities: to gain a new perspective, have purpose to my training, set new goals and see what I can do when I am outside my comfort zone.

And, I would have missed out on seeing my fellow lifters kick some ass and inspire me – like 64 year old Greg Harper who squatted 295lbs, pressed 107lbs and deadlifted 365lbs! Or my pal Kelly Rafferty who added 100lbs to her lifts in the past 6 months! Or my coach Jo Ann Aita who at 131lbs, proceeded to squat 275lbs, press 110lbs and deadlift 325lbs!

Fear is natural. But it has its place.

Courage does not mean a lack of fear. Courage is acting in spite of your fears. And that leads to growing into your best self.

Where does fear hold you back? What experiences are you missing out on because of fear?

  • bp

    Holy cow, Pooja! That IS you in the picture! Way to go! You really walk the walk. I am so proud of you! 😉 I miss you!

    May 5, 2014 at 5:14 pm Reply
  • faisal ansari

    Thank you for sharing your reflections in this great article! The question of, “What’s the worst that could happen?” really resonated with me. Thanks Pooja!

    June 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm Reply
    • Pooja

      So glad to hear that Faisal! The truth is, most times, the ‘worst’ is really not all that bad so thinking through it provides valuable perspective and helps keep your fears grounded vs. having them blow out of proportion. Hugs!

      June 10, 2014 at 9:43 am Reply
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