Why Are We so Afraid of Failure in Our Jobs

When it comes to work, fear is something all of us experience. Even if you are the owner of the company or a regular employee, fear can cause us to make decisions that can be risky for our goals. Fear can cripple the most experience entrepreneur, causing him or her making hasty irrational decisions.

Sometimes, we freeze in making major decisions and sometimes, we lost sleep over a strew of workplace problems. If we fail, the consequences are not just felt in the business or company, but also in our careers in general.

But, why are we so afraid of failure in our jobs? Here are the reasons why we fear it so much:

1. It is Embarrassing

When you fail at something, it is very embarrassing. You did your best but that best isn’t enough. You are afraid of people’s reactions about your failure and it causes your fear to increase further.

We see our jobs as a big part of our identity and when a coworker or your boss react negatively to your failure, you will take it as a personal attack.

2. It shows You Don’t Have the Potential

When you succeed in your given task, you validate to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed in your given position. However, if you fail, its proof that it may not be the right job for you or you don’t have the talent to succeed in the job you are in.

As a result, you fear taking on new challenges because you don’t want to fail again and prove that you don’t have the right skills to succeed in it.

3. It shows You Are becoming Irrelevant

Since the work environment and society in general often lauds those who succeed, failing to be like them is an instant trip down the social ladder.

If you fail, you will think people will leave and forget about you. They would lose the people who can help them with their tasks and they won’t even say yes if you asked them to help you.

Once everyone finds out about it, you fear that it will cause your social worth to drop and eventually become irrelevant to everyone. This typically affect older employees with wealth of experiences. No one wants to become so small until they feel insignificant to the company.

4. You are Letting Everyone Down

When you fail to do your task, you feel like you are letting your team down. You feel that people will be disappointed in you and cause them to criticise your failures and weaknesses.

Especially when you have a great workplace relationship with your team, the pressure is very real because you want to do right by your team.

5. It can mean Losses for You and the Business

The reason we fear failing is because in work, failure leads to losses in revenue and clients. If your failure leads to the business becoming less profitable, then you will lose your investment. You also spent time and effort for nothing.

It can be very scary if you are a entrepreneur, not only that you may have invested a good portion of your savings in your business but you are responsible for your staff’s financial security.


Failing is something we can’t avoid because it is a part of life. However, if we let our fear of failing get through us, we won’t be able to reach our goals easily. It also inspires us to take on challenges and discover more about ourselves in the process. If you are able to overcome your fear of failing, you will become a better person and there are ways to get through it.

So, if you find yourself facing a challenge, don’t immediately shy away from it in fear of failing. Try your best to fulfill your task and learn from it. If you fail, try your best to do better next time. If you win, then that’s good. Remember, don’t let fear control you because if you don’t take certain calculated risks, you never be able to know for sure, what is on the other side.

What do you fear most in your job? Come and share with us in the comments below.

How can we overcome fear? By making sure, that we are never complacent and always improving ourselves. Here are some more tips:
How to Develop a Growth Mindset at Your Workplace
10 Tricks You Haven’t Tried to Boost Your Confidence At Work
Why Perspective taking is Important for Career Success

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. Henry Ford went bankrupt about seven times before he succeeded in producing the Model T. Had he indulged himself in fear of failure — or had he believed that failure proved he was incapable of succeeding — there would be no Ford Motor Company today.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for sharing this interesting tidbit, Paul.


  2. nfa7 says:

    Such a thoughtful post!
    For me, fear of failure is the – letting everybody down part and also the – I don’t have a potential part. Not every workplace will embrace their employees’ failures; in fact, most of them won’t. But nevertheless, that is actually the only way to learn the work because we won’t know everything until we have a few quirks. If only the workplace culture saw that more positively. In which case, the tricky part is to not let their negative comments on our failures get to us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You’re right. We will learn more if we make mistakes and learn from mistakes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. nfa7 says:

        Yes, exactly 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think most of my fears about my job security are because my imagination loves slippery slopes. I tend to obsess about any mistake, building it up until it becomes a case to fire me. Thankfully, experience is softening that tendency as I make mistakes and discover, “Hey, I didn’t get fired! Maybe things are going to be ok.” 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this with us. I used to be very afraid of failure but I have learned to let it go and learn from my mistakes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Biryabarema says:

    We are so afraid of failure in our jobs … we want to be the best in what we are doing . Fear , where shall we go after being fired or collapse of our business.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for your wise words and welcome to MiddleMe.


  5. Michelle says:

    Being in a job where I risk getting let go would be my fear. I have made bad mistakes that cost my job to lose money. It is easy for my eyes to play a trick on me when doing billing work sometimes. Looking at a computer screen is hard on the eyes. I haven’t been let go because I work in a casino that makes tons of money. I do still worry that my mistakes will get me fired though

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Michelle. Looks like your job is a high risk one and stressful indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kally my friend, another “soft-spot” addressed. Thank you.

    Everyone knows that we ought to THINK before we act.

    But what we REALLY ought to do is PRAY before we think, and then act.

    Fear, is not a stranger to most employers and their employees as well. Life IS uncertain; but if we APPLY the gifts God has given to us, and proceed prudently; taking risk as opportunities present themselves; but not on impulse, we minimize foolish-risk, while increasing opportunities.After all. it’s not failure to be fearful of; no, it is not being willing to take calculated risk that one should fear.

    God Bless,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for your wisdom, Patrick. I always look forward to your contribution because they are insightful and meaningful.


  7. Simon says:

    An interesting topic indeed. We live in a very big market where opportunities and career growth have no trouble, All we need is hard work. But this fear actually makes people sit on same company for years. Because job losing fear i know a company it had almost 150 people across india working for that company above 20 years. Imagine, 150 people 20 years on same company same profile. Nice topic. Well delivered. Thanks for the tips. I always fear that i might get stuck in same company, even though i attend lot of interviews after an year of completion, i still find it is risky to sit at same place.


  8. This is so relatable!

    Liked by 1 person

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