Where getting over my fear of failure got me…


For years a fear of failure ruled my life. I only ever did what I was good at, and that meant ruling out spontaneity, new beginnings and humility.

Running has always been my thing. I have literally run since I was 6 years old, and have loved it since the old days of coming home from Primary School and going for a 2-4km run with my dad to the beach, where we’d have a quick swim in the sea and then run home again.

At High School I got involved in cross-country and captained the St Mary’s team for a few years, but when I look back at those days now, they don’t make me proud… for the simple reason of ‘failure-avoidance’.

What I didn’t know back then is that a ‘fear of failure’ is the catalyst for PROCRASTINATION. A fear of failure fuels ones behaviour in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. You avoid something AND thus never try it
  2. You put in little-to-no-work (practice/training/learning) and you then know that when race day/test day arrives, that you can blame your lack of preparation. Your failure will thus never be a true reflection of you. i.e: It’s face-saving.
Procrastination is a blame game. It’s your way of protecting yourself from failing.

Procrastinating means that you will NEVER know what it feels like to really achieve something, to put your heart & soul on the line, to run the race marked out for you. To risk.

My year spent living in Asia taught me many things but one the greatest gifts that the year gave me, was time away from others (like me). I developed a new appreciation for uniqueness, for who I was outside of my culture, family, school, varsity and church. I learnt to love me (all of me), and in doing so I started to fight against my deeply embedded pride – and thus fear of failure.

A year (almost to the day) after arriving home from Korea, I ran my first half marathon with no excuses in my pocket. For this one (OMTOM2015), instead of training here-and-there, or being undecided as to whether to push it, or not, and throwing out the oh-so-common I’m injured excuse, I put in 7 hard weeks of training with the aim of doing the best that I could do on race day. I wrote the splits I wanted to run on the inside of my arm – knowing that others would now know what time I was running for. I got to the start line, privileged to be seeded in A, and put my pride aside and asked those around me who was going for a silver medal (sub 1:30) so that I could try and pace off someone else.

And then I ran my little heart out.

For years when I happened to visualize this race, I always imagined my family and H being at the finish line. I imagined the crowd. I imagined my dad being so proud of me, and yet all that fitted the old me – the ‘fear of failure’ me, the need for approval me.

This race I did on my own. There was no one there to watch me start, climb, push through tough moments or finish. It was just me, and that was enough.

I always knew this was MY goal, but I never realized how letting go of pride, would release me to fly. On my own!

I crossed the line at 1:29:57, which is 3 seconds from the gun going off and the silver medal cut-off time. I genuinely cannot explain what it took for me to get there, and I wouldn’t want to. Because that was my journey.

And you, beautiful, have a race you’re set to run too. It may look very different to mine. But you were born with dreams, potential and passion…and putting aside your pride may just be the fuel you need to get you to pursue that BIG dream.


I’m backing you all the way



  1. Gaby on April 27, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Just want to say how much I loved reading this! I’m the opposite to you in that I am not in the least a natural athlete or runner, but a few years ago I committed to running a half. I was getting over a nasty breakup, and what got me through the training was thinking I wanted it to be the year I ran a half, instead of the year I got over my ex. All those hours of training were so much part of my journey back to myself. I honestly didn’t care what time I did as long as I finished on the day, but I managed 1:33 and was so proud of myself for everything it took to get there, I was in tears as I crossed the line. What a feeling. So thanks for reminding me of that. Time to get those running shoes on again 😉

    • caitlyndb on April 28, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      Thank you for your comment!!! And what an awesome time for a first half 🙂 Well done!!!! And yay for hitting the tar again soon xxxx

  2. Inge Madden on April 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Cait,

    When I saw the title of your article I knew that it was going to speak directly to me as I am also quite athletic and very competitive, but also realise that I am too proud and afraid of fear to give one thing my 100% effort, and rather will split my time between way too many things and have excuses when I don’t perform they way wanted myself to! Thanks for that article. It’s going to help me address some of my own fear issues… Loving the coaching course this year! Thanks for all your help in the beginning and by the way HR is awesome so far!


    Love Inge

    • caitlyndb on April 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Yay Inge. I’m sure many can relate to this 🙂 God really does give us the grace to deal with these things! SO glad you are loving your course & that your new position is going so well!!! xx

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