Success Is Not the Opposite of Failure — 3 Lessons that Makes Goal Achievement Less Stressful

Darren Stehle
2 min readMay 16, 2022
Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

The mindset of success at all costs is killing people.

The reason many people push themselves so hard to succeed is that they’re afraid of failure. We are taught to believe we have to hustle, burn the candle at both ends, and do whatever it takes. Work hard and you’ll succeed, right?

Success is not an end destination, it’s a measure of progress.

Can You Succeed Without the Fear of Failure?


Here’s what I’ve learned by questioning blind assumptions about success and accomplishment that I help my clients understand as we create strategies and a direction to accomplish their goals efficiently.

Lesson 1: An action that doesn’t work out is a missed-take.

A baby learns to walk by crawling and eventually finding its balance on both legs. If they fall down on the first attempt, was that a failure? No, it was an attempt that didn’t take hold, a missed-take.

Lesson 2: Did you fail if you don’t accomplish your goal?

If what you’re working on is too stressful, it’s human nature to fight, flee, or freeze. The solution? Do less to reduce or eliminate stress. Choosing not to act on something is not failure — that’s having the clarity to know how to spend your time.

Lesson 3: Failure and success are not opposites.

Success is a process that can be measured qualitatively and quantitatively while acting on your intended outcome.

Failure is a moment in time — the “nonperformance of something due, required, or expected.” The belief that failure and success are opposites is why people judge themselves when they fail. If you’re taught to celebrate your wins, wouldn’t the opposite require self-judgement?

Read my “Success & Failure” Article Series Part I and Part II.

Darren Stehle

Thinking Partnership Coach for Queer Change-Makers. I write about: actionable self-mastery; morals & ethics; LGBTQ+ rights & advocacy.