Recently, I interviewed Tanya Dalton, author of The Joy of Missing Out and The Busy Woman’s Guide to an Extraordinary Life of Meaning and Success, on The Lindsey Elmore Show. (Catch it here.) In this post, she shares her insight about the value of fear and failure in our journey for success. This may just change your mind about what it means to be fearless.

A lot of people don’t know this, but my very first job was as a teacher. Recently, I was thinking about kids and how in education, especially in the early years, kids are taught to abide by the rules. And it makes sense! Rules are for the children’s own safety and the safety of others. Rules help ensure children and school staff can go about their days in a safe and efficient manner.

In one sense, rules exist because they make a lot of sense for our world to function properly. But if you flip the concept of rules on its head and play devil’s advocate for a moment, what do rules prevent? Sometimes, depending on the rule, rules can prevent big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking. Rules can prevent risky ideas from becoming life altering innovation. 

While abiding by certain rules may help you on your path to success, perhaps that thinking has been ingrained in us for so long that we’ve become afraid of failure.

One of the main topics I discuss in my new book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to an Extraordinary Life of Meaning and Success, is how our society holds a negative bias towards fear and failure. 

The Pitfalls of Fearlessness

I have come to really dislike the word “fearless” because it assumes fear is an all-encompassing negative emotion. In contrast, fear is a very powerful and necessary emotion. Fear lives within us to keep us safe. It is a biological function that is necessary for our survival! 

Without fear, we would lean too far forward when looking over the Grand Canyon, or we wouldn’t think twice about jumping off the roof instead of using a ladder when hanging the Christmas lights. We need fear. So when did fear become such a bad thing for people?

Instead of being fearless, I invite you to be brave. Brave people still have the fear present, but instead of seeing fear as the enemy, they focus on how they can use fear to push forward. In my eyes, brave people are the ones who have overcome the things they were once afraid of. 

Failure as Fuel for Determination

Many of us have also been taught to fear failure. But how I see it, it is failure, not progress, that is the truest sign of growth. If you fail at something, it means you pushed yourself instead of staying in your comfortable place. 

Failure should be incorporated into any major goal or aspiration you set for yourself. That is, if you do not make your goals adaptable, then you are not accounting for life and how life works! Should you meet failure, use it as a turning point to adapt and reset your goals. 

We cannot make things like failure and fear go away with words like “fearless.” But we can find a way to use fear to move us forward. We have a choice in the words we tell ourselves, so choose your words wisely. 

Tanya Dalton is a best-selling author, speaker, productivity expert, and growth strategist for female leaders. Her highly anticipated second book, On Purpose: The Busy Woman’s Guide to an Extraordinary Life of Meaning and Success, will be on sale wherever books are sold on October 26, 2021. Preorder it here.

Tanya is also the founder and CEO of inkWELL Press Productivity Co. a multi-million dollar company providing tools that work as a catalyst in helping women do less while achieving maximum success.

Want some practical tips for facing your fears? Check out 7 Things Standing in the Way of Achieving Your Dreams.