Finding Your Future Failure

Fear holds you back like a snare. Once you’re caught, pulling away only tightens the grip. Preparation prevents reaction. Prepare for future failures so you won’t end up caught in the snare of fear.

“One way to combat our fears is to hit them head-on.”
Soren Kaplan in Leapfrogging

Kaplan offers a “finding your future failures” strategy in his book, Leapfrogging.

Kaplan on exploring your biggest possible failure:

  1. What does your most disastrous scenario look like?
  2. What impact would this worst-case scenario have on individuals, teams, the organization, customers, …
  3. What would be the short-term impact on you personally? Long-term impact?
  4. What would you personally feel or experience?
  5. How could you rebound from this failure?
  6. What would you do next?
  7. In what way could the failure be used as a stepping-stone?

Step back after exploring:

  1. What insights have you gained?
  2. What new alternatives or options opened up?
  3. Did any of your assumptions or feelings about failure change?


Focus on what you control;
identify, understand and prepare for what you can’t.

Kaplan suggests the source of most of our fear is a feeling of lack of control. Divide a sheet of paper down the middle. Create a bulleted list of items you control and things you cannot control. Explore, evaluate, prioritize, and consider the impact of each item.

I love focusing on positive vision rather than possible failures. But, exploring possible failures before they occur helps free me from the snare of fearing failure.


Thanks to Soren Kaplan for an enlightening conversation. His book, “Leapfrogging: Harnessing the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs,” is a great read. This post is an adaptation of pages 150-153.

How can leaders overcome the fear of failure?