Fear of Failure

By Carolyn Edlund



Artwork courtesy Eric Hudgins


A few years ago, I met two women who told about their plans to invest in real estate. The market was booming, house flipping was popular, and everybody in the business seemed to be getting rich.

They were partners, they said, and wanted to make it big – so they were learning how to do it.

They had spent $40,000 on seminars, courses, and products that promised to teach them the business.

But they hadn’t made a single real estate investment, nor had they earned a cent, because they were “still learning.”

Artists sometimes do the same thing, taking endless seminars and workshops and reading everything they can. But they don’t jump in because they lack confidence, or they feel that they need to know everything to get it just right before they start.

I ran into an artist a few months back who said that he had been preparing to launch a website for his artwork and also a line of home décor products. He had been working on the concept for three years. He wanted everything to be just perfect.

His website is still under construction, and he doesn’t know when it’s going to launch, because he is dealing with a debilitating fear of failure.


In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. ~Bill Cosby


Taking the leap and going public with your business is hard. It takes courage, optimism and blind faith. Going into business for yourself means that you will be learning on the job. Everything you read and everyone you listened to while you were learning had their own experiences to relate. Your experiences will be your own.

You have to make mistakes and live through some failures to really “get it” and move forward. Conditions are never going to be perfect to start a business. If that is your criteria, you will be waiting a long, long time.

Starting a business isn’t for everyone. You are practically guaranteed many long hours of thankless work before you get a foothold. You must be persistent, persistent, persistent. You have to be able to not take things personally. That can be a challenge when what you are selling is the art you created from your own very personal inspiration.

If you make the decision to start your own business as an artist and work towards success, you must be willing to face failure – and do it anyway.


See more of artist Eric Hudgins’ work on his website.


  1. I’ve also witnessed a fear of success. Where opportunity to shine has been handed to an artist and they essentially sabotage their moment to sell, exceed, show, etc.

    It’s as if they get comfortable with failure. Or have simply given up not wanting to risk anything, including failure.

    It’s very frustrating to work with people who implode. In fact, as someone who produces programming for artists, I take note of those who self-sabotage, as well as those who talk a good game but don’t show up for actual opportunity.

  2. I run a website promoting artist and local art in Tulsa, OK (www.tulsaartspot.com) and just recently began acting on my own art career. I am entering some work into an art show, my first ever, and all sort of doubts began creeping into my head. It is amazing how I can promote, praise, encourage and celebrate artists, but not myself. At least I’m going for it! I had fun making the art and am proud that I can face the possibility of failure head on. This article assures me that I am on the right track despite what my insecurities are. Thank you!

    • Britt,

      It’s amazing how prevalent it is to have those doubts. I think it’s really easy to start to wonder if you are on the right track, especially if you are working alone. Getting that second opinion works for me too – I need to “check in” and see if what I’m doing resonates or if I need input or even to work with a professional who can manage specific projects (like a webmaster.)

      Best of luck with your art career!

  3. Reminds me of a great book I read years ago, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”. Good article.

  4. I believe it was written by Susan Jeffers

  5. This is so true, it’s much like having a baby, there is never going to be a perfect time, but the benefits and joy far outweigh the timing and pain! Excellent blog post.

    • Indigene, It’s so funny that you bring this up. I remember very clearly when I was pregnant with my first child, which was a surprise. The doctor said, “It’s never a good time to get pregnant. There is always a new job, or a vacation you want to take. That’s why you don’t make that decision. It’s up to God.”

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