Steve Jobs achieved massive success as the co-founder of Apple, but he was no stranger to massive failure.

Like the time Jobs was fired from Apple at the age of 30. Or how about the times he launched product failures? Remember these? The Apple Lisa. Macintosh TV. The Apple III. The Power Mac G4 Cube.

He screwed up, bigtime, and often. But there's a bigger lesson here.

What separates the doers from the dreamers?

Sure, we know we can't succeed without failing. But, more important, we have to be brave enough to act in spite of our fears. And that's what separates the doers from the dreamers, according to Steve Jobs.

Pay attention to what Jobs shared in a 1994 taped interview conducted by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association:

Most people never pick up the phone. Most people never call and ask. And that's what separates sometimes the people who do things from those who just dream about them. You gotta act. You gotta be willing to fail. You gotta be willing to crash and burn. With people on the phone or starting a company, if you're afraid you'll fail, you won't get very far.

He's right. The fear of failing can paralyze us--cause us to do nothing and keep us from getting very far. Some causes include:

  • A reluctance to experiment with new ideas and try new things
  • Procrastination. You fear failing so you avoid following through with goals.
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence. Example: "I'll never find success so I may as well go back and get a real job" or "I'm not smart enough to start a business."

The good thing about the fear of failure is that it's entirely up to us to decide how to look at it. Perspective matters. We can choose to see failure as the worst-case scenario and toss in the towel, or as a learning experience that helps us to bounce back, grow, and become even better.

One sure way to reduce your fear of failing

Facing failure head-on and embracing it is pretty courageous. But if you're not quite ready to make that leap, there is one sure way you can reduce the fear of failing: squashing the negative dialogue in your head.

To quiet the voice of criticism, doubt, or fear, you have to catch negative thinking. Blaming yourself or believing you won't succeed is a recipe for passivity and depression.

So challenge the inner monologue in your head by reframing. For example, write down three alternative ways of viewing a situation. Go to work tomorrow and act as if at least one of those alternatives is correct.

Happiness and success are ignited when our inner environment is freed from negative assumptions. Countering destructive thoughts makes us better friends to ourselves and more desirable partners, colleagues, and co-workers.