It’s Fear, not Failure, that Destroys Dreams

“Stop worrying about what others think,” “trust your instincts,” and “know your strengths” are some words of wisdom that come to mind when I am advising young women starting their careers. Throughout my own career, in which I have held a variety of leadership roles, I have made mistakes and experienced failure. While tough to accept at the time, I recognize now that these situations served as important building blocks in expanding my knowledge and experience, which has ultimately made me a better leader.

Everyone is afraid of failure on some level. It’s human nature. However, the fear of failure tends to hold women back more than their male counterparts. Women are particularly hard on themselves and can take rejection more personally. Hence, women often resist applying for senior positions until they’re certain of the outcome and are more than qualified for the job.

This becomes difficult to manage in a world where technology and business models are rapidly changing. It’s impossible to know everything, so spending too much time trying to achieve perfection risks derailing a woman’s career rather than strengthening it. What’s most important is for women to trust their ability to quickly learn and adapt, to believe in themselves, and to embrace opportunities to grow.

As leaders, we need to show young women that trial and error encourages, rather than impedes, learning and innovation. We need to instill the importance of taking calculated risks and retaining self-belief. Earlier this year, AXA unveiled a new campaign, “Know You Can,” which encourages its customers, including women, to believe in themselves, realize their ambitions, overcome their fears, and achieve their goals.

Krungthai-AXA Life Insurance in Thailand is committed to diversity and inclusion and proud to have 60 percent female representation at the executive level. We are particularly focused on equipping our female employees with the confidence they need to become leaders in the industry by empowering them and fostering a learning culture.

If women want to overcome fear, they first need to recognize it and commit to moving through it. I encourage women to get comfortable with accepting potential failures. What’s important is to acknowledge the failure, learn from it, and move on. Finally, trust your instincts and remember that fear will destroy more dreams and ambitions than failure ever will.