Why fear of failure is your biggest problem

Because a kickass philosopher said so. Paraphrasing Émile Durkheim (1858-1917), whom we call the Fuckup philosopher:

“Capitalism is based on individualism and hope. The feel of being a failure is the particular burden of life in modern capitalism.” 

-Émile Durkheim

If Durkheim said that in the 19th century… well, what about now, when each one of us is facing increasing competition and heightened expectations? 

I don’t know about you, but at Fuckup we’re tired of society celebrating the simplistic (and often inaccurate) success stories of the Gates and Zuckerbergs of the world. We pay so much attention to the “winners” that we don’t know what to do when we’re one of the many, many more “losers.”

For pretty much all of us, there’s a moment in life when we look back and realize that we haven’t achieved any of our life goals. For me, it’s that I’m not financially independent, I don’t have a six-pack (other than in the fridge), and I haven’t created the world-changing impact that I imagined 15 years ago.

We have been taught that the responsibility for our success lies within ourselves. That we can always do better, if only we work harder and think positively. But we can’t all be Rocky Balboa. 

The idea that being a good person requires always trying harder with no end in sight is why failure becomes a catastrophe that ends up defining our identity. Plus, if we fail or aren’t good enough because of external forces, people will say that we’re just looking for excuses.

We’re made to believe that society is just, that the free market is truly free, and that we control our destiny. People who fail or don’t meet expectations are less intelligent or mediocre, while successful people are hard workers who have value.

Except that’s not true. Societies need to realize that we as individuals aren’t completely in control of every outcome. Failure of any type and at any level is in part a misfortune, not a reflection of our character and identity.

Our circumstances—such as the so-called genetic lottery, what passport we have, what school we attended, where we live, the assholes that cross our path, pandemias, etc.—are all factors that deeply define our success or lack thereof.

Ok, So What Can I Do?

Fuckup the system. Capitalism is based on individualism and comparison. Free yourself from that dangerous game as much as you can. Don’t let yourself live a life of fear.

First of all, question your definition of success. Did you really create it? Or maybe your definition of success as money, power, and fame was implanted by the media. Do you really want to focus your life on high-income work only to become the richest person in the graveyard?

Stop focusing on external validation and accumulation. When asked their biggest regrets on their deathbeds, people often say they regret working too much and not spending more time with their loved ones. What will you regret?

Second, stop comparing yourself to others. Don’t fall prey to Capitalism’s trap of comparison that turns you into a passive consumer, constantly striving to have more than the person next to you, and then the next person, and then the next. Having more than others, and working yourself to death to get there, won’t ensure any type of fulfillment.

The most important thing is to know yourself. Live a more authentic life, which is the only type of life that you can’t fuck up. The best thing is that the more you live this life, the more your daily activities will flow and the more you’ll find people like yourself. People who value similar things and share your deeper definition of success.

Question yourself. Design your life. That’s the way to live a life that’s less limited by the stigma of failure.

Pepe Villatoro

Pepe Villatoro

Fuckup Nights CEO

Pepe Villatoro is a globally awarded serial entrepreneur. He has created 5 companies, and was the WeWork Director for Latin North America. Currently, he is the co-founder and CEO of Fuckup Nights, a movement present in 330 cities in 90 countries, and collaborates with governments and companies to help create a shift in mindset. He loves travel, a good meal, and good conversations.