Desire for success or fear of failure?

Winner mentality

Desire for success or fear of failure?

When I was competing in sports, my main driving force was a desire for progress and a wish to see how good I could become in my sport. I assume that it is the same for many of you. However, we have all built in a certain fear of failure, which may drive us into negative thinking patterns like: “but what if this goes wrong….”

Let us look at 4 different types of athletes, and find out which mental qualities that are needed in order to become a top athlete. To make it simple, I just call them A, B, C and D. All of these have different combinations of desire for success, and fear of failure.

  • A: Strong desire for success, but also with a strong fear of failure. This is not a good combination.
  • B: Strong desire for success, and at the same time not so afraid about losing and failure. This is a better combination in order to become a top athlete.
  • C: Moderate desire for sucess, and also a fear of failure.
  • D: Does not bother so much about neither success nor failure.

If we look at the qualities of these athletes, we will easily conclude that B is the one with the highest potential for success. Athlete A is number 2, while C and D will never become top athletes.

Who is a winnerWithin sports there are many like A and C, but B is the typical winner. D will never become a top athlete, but can be good contributors for team spirit and mood, socially and during training sessions. So D may actually be an important factor to contribute to the success of B.

Any leader, coach and trainer should notice the following:

It is OK to fail!

Ok to fail

Nobody likes losing, but it is important to work with keeping fear of failure – perfomance anxiety – away, when things are not going so well. Everybody who has been an athlete over some time with a wish for progress and success, know that they have never tried more intense than during the downperiods.


In order to have success in sport, you need to have the right to fail!

Performance anxiety may be avoided

Leaders, coaches, trainers and team mates should be helpers to those who have started on a downperiod. More specifically, helping by supporting them mentally to get back on track, which will help them back to their normal performance level.

If the fear of failure gets too strong, the athlete will get into a negative and defensive pattern of thinking. Performance anxiety becomes stronger if the athlete has big expectation to himself or from the surroundings.

Source: Willi Railo

Read more about mental training here:

Author: Ingrid Kristiansen

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