How Can I Battle the Fear of Failure in the Workplace?

Read advice from four career experts on how to boost your confidence
Dharshi Bopegedera

Dharshi Bopegedera, ACS Career Consultant

Trust in yourself! You were hired because you are qualified and capable. Trust your judgment. Do not be afraid to ask questions. It is better to ask when you are in doubt rather than make a costly mistake. Also consider cultivating friends who will help you and/or a mentor who will guide you. 

Paul Lobben

Paul Lobben, Scientist, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Align yourself with colleagues that exhibit the characteristics you admire.  Often in team projects, the most effective team is that with a diverse perspective, in which the talents of the individual complements those of the team.  Seek to collaborate with that person on a project, or establish a time to meet regularly for lunch or coffee and discuss business.  With a positive attitude, demonstrated effort and a willingness to learn you will gain that competitive edge.

Michael Kenney

Michael Kenney, ACS Career Consultant

Doubt and fear are not, necessarily, bad – unless these feelings hinder our ability to accomplish our task. Yet, these are very real feelings and they do hamper us. I suggest finding a mentor quickly after starting a new position. Someone with some level of experience in your organization. Work with this mentor to find ways to overcome these fears or realize that the doubt is there for a reason – pursue that reason.

Holley Waldron

Holley Waldron, Human Resources Business Partner, American Chemical Society

No matter what point one may be in his or her career, doubt, fear, and crisis of confidence are real possibilities.  The much needed first step – though often less taken – is to assess the situation and understand the source of your fear or lack of confidence.  Step two is to share your thoughts with a valued advisor to develop a solution.  Each day is a new one, and our value in the workplace grows with each experience. 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

ACS Career Consultants are experts and leaders working in the field of chemistry who have volunteered to support other ACS members’ career development through one-on-one career counselling. They can stimulate your thinking, ask important career planning questions to help clarify goals, provide encouragement, teach strategies for making meaningful career decisions, and aid you in your job search. Connect with an ACS Career Consultant today!

Copyright 2019 American Chemical Society (All Rights Reserved)