Apr 11

Fear: The Biggest Obstacle to Success


Fear can hold us back which is why it’s important to find a way to conquer it

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C.

When I was a kid I used to be afraid of the dark.  It took some time before I found the courage to sleep alone in the dark.  My mind would always play tricks on me and I was under the impression that there was someone, or something, in my room waiting to sneak up on me or eat me.

I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to having fear of the dark.  Every kid goes through their own “boogeyman” phase but we all eventually learn as we grow up that there’s no such thing as a boogeyman who hides in the closet and lurks in the darkest corners of our rooms.

When I got to around third grade, if I remember it correctly, I can already sleep in the dark.  In fact, I would rather sleep with the lights off than on because my surrounding becomes more conducive to sleep when it’s pitch black.

There will come a time when we learn to outgrow our fears.  There comes a time when you will just feel that there was nothing to fear about and that it was all in the mind.  Just like that time when I became comfortable with the lights off, I also realized that there’s no boogeyman, no monster or ghost standing in the corner and waiting to scare the hell out of me.  OR WAS THERE? (just kidding, I may not fall asleep quickly again)

Fear can be disadvantageous if we don’t learn to face it and conquer it eventually.  It can stunt our growth, prevent us from experiencing the best things in life, and worst of all, hold us back from reaching our goals and becoming successful.

I am currently reading Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting the Devil (which is an awesome read by the way, I encourage you to read it!), and in the book, fear was identified as one of the biggest obstacle to success and if you look closely, it is absolutely true.  Most of the bad habits we have are all based on fear and it is because of these habits that we remain stagnant and unhappy.

We’ve all heard of te saying “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself” and you know what?  It’s absolutely true!

Cliché as it may sound but if you look back into your past failures, you will realize that if there’s anything we should be scared of, it is fear itself and here’s a couple of reasons why:

Fear of Failure

Perhaps the most common fear among all of us is the fear of failure and who can blame us?  At an early age, we’ve come to know failure as something negative and degrading.

What’s the one thing you were trying to avoid when you were still in school?  To fail right?

We’ve been conditioned to look at failure as an ultimate NO-NO.  That it’s the worst thing we can possibly commit and that it makes you less of a person if you fail at something but in the real world, failure is all but natural.  Every body fails at something and the real question is, how do you come back from it?

Failure is not something we should fear because it is in these failures that we learn life’s greatest lessons.  It is through these failures that we develop the courage to keep on trying until our goals are met.

Fear of Criticism

Another kind of fear that holds us back is the fear of being criticized.  We all have the tendency to please everyone even if it means sacrificing what we really want.  We want so much to live up to other people’s expectations that we tend to do things according to what they want instead of what we want.

We can’t live like that because doing so is like living other people’s lives instead of our own.

If you really want something so bad, do it for you.  Do what makes you happy and don’t take the criticisms that comes with it seriously.

You can’t please everyone.  That’s a fact and there will be people who will not agree with you but who cares?

As long as what you’re doing is morally right and you are not stepping on anyone or hurting somebody because of it, you have nothing to worry about.

Fear of Change

Without change, there’ll be no progress.  True?


Imagine if we’re still using dial-up at this age.  Would it be any fun? (kids who were born in the 90s, please ask your parents if you’re not familiar with the term.  Damn I’m old!)

Imagine if the iPod wasn’t invented and we continue to use the Walkman.  Imagine if the Playstation  or Xbox didn’t come to exist and we’re forced to stick with the pixellated, two-dimensional world of the family computer.

Today’s advancement in technology were all brought about by change and as stubborn as you may be, it is the one thing you can’t stop from happening.

While it is understandable that we are comfortable with the things we’ve been used to, at some point you’ll have to accept that nothing is permanent and that things are bound to change just like seasons do.

The bottom line is we need to learn to adapt and to embrace change because change promotes growth and improvement.

Fear of the Unknown

Has it ever crossed your mind what makes us procrastinate?

Apart from the fear of change, it’s mostly because of the fear of the unknown.  We are afraid of taking risks because we don’t know what to expect and taking one has a 50/50 chance of success and failure.

Sometimes we can be such perfectionists that we wouldn’t want to take a chance on something unless we are assured of a positive outcome but most of the time, it is through these risks that we discover to road to success.

Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, is perhaps the best example I can give when it comes to taking risks.  Larry would promise people of features that are yet to exist then immediately go back to his developers and ask them to build the products.  He would also hire unqualified people and train them later with manuals and books.


Probably, but it works!  He wouldn’t have a $50 billion net worth if it didn’t.

The Takeaway

It’s all but natural to have fear because we’re just humans but we can’t stay in fear all our lives.  There should come a point when we need to conquer these fears so we can move forward.  Sometimes you just have to close your eyes, hold your breath, and take the leap!

What happens next is up to you.

Over to You

What are your greatest fears? How are you planning to get over them?

I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment or share your stories below.

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Noel Rosos

About Noel Rosos

Noel is a husband, father, author, performance coach and self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST who helps business owners and struggling individuals convert their failures into opportunities through inspiring blog posts, life-changing books and exceptional one-on-one coaching sessions


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  1. Julian Sirian (@JulianSirian)

    Good post, and I agree that Fear is a great block towards life experience. Also tied in to living outside your comfort zone. Thanks for posting;-)

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      You’re very welcome Julian and thanks for following my blog.

  2. Diane Hall-Harvey

    I made several trips to Atlanta by Amtrak out of fear of flying. At the time I haven’t flown since childhood and was frightened of getting on a plane after so many years! My Geogia friends said ” Look, it takes you 18 hrs to get here by train. If you fly, you can be here with us in just 2 hrs”! They were right, it was time consuming- time I could instead invest with them. I did it! I FINALLY got on a plane! Scared but after a couple of trips it was “old hat”! :-) Then there was the business trip to California…5 hrs on a plane! Petrified! If what? Jetlag and earthquakes! I sat in between 2 Upline Leaders who talked about business the whole time (most of it anyway) That kept me CALM! By the way…No jetlag and no earthquakes took place! I’ll do it again tomorrow! Fear of flying? Gone!!!

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      Nice! Sometimes we just need to close our eyes and jump. Once we’re past that, it’s not going to be as scary as it used to be.

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