The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.”
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Daniel Chidiac.
Daniel Chidiac began writing in 2013 when he started to feel an overwhelming desire to express his deepest thoughts and emotions. Releasing his first title Who Says You Can’t? You Do (self-help) a few years later, it received critical acclaim. It soon became an Amazon best-seller in eight countries and his writing touched millions of people worldwide. Penguin Random House soon became aware of the title and acquired the rights. The book has since been translated into 13 languages.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Thanks for having me! I would say it all started when I was at university studying commerce. I was sitting in a lecture room with about 200 hundred other students, looking around and thinking to myself “I don’t want to be here.” I had no clue what I wanted to do in my life, I just knew I didn’t want to be there. I picked up my books and left. Probably a crazy thing to do at the time and wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but the feeling was that strong.
I had multiple other jobs after that, most of which I didn’t like. I went to Europe with my brother and came across an Italian clothing brand that we loved. We came home and played around with the idea of importing them to Australia. We contacted the company and asked if they had a distributor here and they didn’t! We created a business plan and the bank gave us quite a but of money. Not sure why they did as we didn’t even have security. But, we took it. Needless to say, the business went down in 2008 during the GFC. I crashed really hard and was in debt at the age of 22.
It really hit my ego and threw me off as I thought that money was all that was going to make me happy. I started really focusing on myself and just enjoying day to day again. I felt like in my darkest moments, is when I truly found myself. I then started writing about my experiences and the new found love and wisdom I had found within myself. Long story short, I wrote and released my first book Who Says You Can’t? You Do which had a lot of success and now own my publishing company which my second book, The Modern Break-Up is published under.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I think an interesting, and even defining moment in my career was when I had finished the first draft of my book. I wanted to self-publish as I wanted to release it to the market sooner than later. I was looking for editors in Australia to edit my book. I got rejection after rejection, even though I was willing to pay them. Most said they didn’t feel the book had great potential and didn’t want to take my money. One in particular who was one of the most renowned editors in Victoria (the state that I’m from), said to me “I don’t want to be the one tell you this, but have considered doing something else for money.” She said that after I told her that I saved up a bit of money and left my job to finish writing the book. It was such a stab in the guts.
I remember I went to the park near my house and ran until I was physically sick. I was crying and thinking how I just spent three years working on this book to have someone in the industry tell me how bad it was. And then something clicked. I knew it was my calling. I went back home and worked on the book and improved it. I don’t think I left my house other than to eat for two weeks. Eventually the book was picked up by Penguin Random House through a six figure advance. That was after I already made a substantial amount of money with the book being self-published.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I think the story has all three traits in them…
Patience. Sometimes in life we think something may happen in a certain time. You can water the grass and watch it all day, it doesn’t make it grow any quicker. It will just drive you crazy! You have to put work in and then allow the universe to do its part too. Sometimes life gives you things when you’re ready to receive them. And usually, the times that you don’t get them when you might want them, are the moments that teach you the most.
Persistence. Never give up. EVER. If it’s something that you think can work and you believe in it, it will. There are always people who are going to give you their opinion, and usually that’s just their own limitations. Back yourself and use your intuition. You must find that balance between patience and persistence so you don’t burn out all the time. You’ll know when you are meant to be working, and other times when you have to allow things to flow. It’s a dance and we are all still learning that till the day we leave this earth.
Learn to take criticism. When I had finished my second book, I found an editor who would go over it. When she sent me the notes, I was completely overwhelmed. I was on a holiday in LA and remember feeling like the world had just swallowed me up. Once again I had been working on this for years and the notes were massive. I thought the book was finished, but it was far from it. My ego kicked in and didn’t want to take notice of anything she said because I was certain it was done (and probably some laziness added to that too). But when I calmed down, I really read what she had to say. Some things I didn’t change, but others I knew made sense because I had seen that stuff and rushed over it. I had to accept the criticism. Never to give up, but to improve. Now when I create something, I give it to people and say “tell me what’s wrong with it.” That’s how you refine your creation, especially if you have the intention to release it to the mass.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
I believe fear stems from a few areas, but it isn’t always bad as most people may think. In fact, I think fear can often be misinterpreted.
Firstly, many people fear a scenario that hasn’t happened yet. Are they scared of heights, or are they scared of falling off? Are they scared of the ocean or are they scared of drowning? Are they scared to open a business, or are they scared of failing? Fear is only looking at something with the worst possible outcome. However, that outcome hasn’t occurred yet. It is literally just a figure of their imagination. Fear is change, and it’s usually looking at that in a negative light.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
It is by far the number one killer!
If you do not face your fear and act, you will live in regret for the rest of your life. We are all going to die one day, it doesn’t get more drastic than that. So whatever failure you are are scared of, remember, one day it won’t even matter. If you want it, go get it!
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
Fear is there to teach us what we need to do. It is actually positive intuition if we decide to observe it that way. Instead of thinking, “why I can’t do this” shift it to “how can I do this?” Then you will get answers that can propel you forward. I have also found that fear is usually only excitement, disguised. If we can continually focus on the true outcome we desire, rather than the obstacles, then I believe that excitement brings motivation to act. It’s in turning your fear into excitement by constantly reminding yourself of the emotions that come along with succeeding, that have encouraged people to persist through all hardships.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
When I dropped out of university a year after I started, I went to Europe on a holiday. I came across this clothing brand with my brother, and we loved it. We wanted to selling the clothes in Australia so we reached out to the company and asked if they had an Australian distributor. They didn’t! We had no idea about clothing but thought there was a market for it. Long story short…we ended up getting a $70,000 unsecured loan from the bank from a “good” business plan. They were sort of crazy to hive us the money with no security. We started the business and had it running for a couple of years. The GFC in 2008 hit and there wasn’t really a market left for expensive Italian made clothing. I found myself in debt and closed the business. It felt like a failure at the time but I persevered and did all kinds of jobs to pay it off. I learnt so much from the failure, especially about myself and what I wanted. I could have curled up in a ball and let that scare me forever from going out on my own, but I didn’t. When you keep persisting, things will turn around.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
I learnt that only chasing money isn’t enough to start a business. It needs to be something youre interested in and somewhat at least like doing to fully commit too. You need to feel passionate about the idea or business. I wasn’t in that instance and I think that was a big part of it. I learnt that no matter how great something may seem, it needs to be smart on paper as well. The numbers have to add up. If I love a brand and it’s costing me $10 to ship here and I am going to sell it for double that, but shipping costs to a customer is going to take most of the profits, then it’s not worth it. It needs to be believable to you.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Turn your fear into excitement: Usually fear is just excitement disguised. It’s ok to be scared…take the leap of faith anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? You’re going to die one day anyway.
- Learn from fear: Fear isn’t a bad thing. Look at what it’s trying to teach you. Listen carefully and you will find answers. I think fear (sometimes the voice of reason) can actually help you in your ventures.
- Read stories of other people: Search stories of other successful people in history to get inspiration to act. People always say “Someone has it worse off than you” as a source of inspiration to gather from. However, I don’t like that. Instead, I like saying “Someone has had it worse off than you, and actually gotten through it.” People have been scared in the past and done amazing things.
- Change the narrative of fear: Often, fear is just being scared of a scenario that hasn’t actually happened yet. But if we are going to look at the worst in our mind, we owe to ourselves to actually see the best. Why can’t it turn out better than you’re expecting?
- Get help: It’s ok to seek help and speak to people. Read books, speak to friends and family, therapists, life coaches etc. Do whatever you have to do to get inspired. Tackling fear is going have to be normal thing if you want to venture out on your own in business. Learn to be more comfortable with it.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
I think it means that you have to have relentless desire to succeed. There are rules to succeeding like persistence, patience, self-awareness etc. That is the only way. You must pursue it at all costs if you really want it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Get out and try things! Try new activities, do things you’ve never done, watch things you’ve never watched. Open up your mind!
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Yes… Steven Spielberg. I think he is fantastic at what he does and would love to venture into film one day.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can find me on Instagram at @danielchidiac and my website is danielchidiac.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.