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John Marvin

Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Slow You Down

Never daring to risk failure leaves doctors feeling overwhelmed and stagnated.




IF YOU ARE familiar with the DISC behavior assessment tool, you know that it is used to identify the dominant behaviors and “styles” people exhibit. The “D” stands for “dominant” and indicates that a person is decisive and takes charge. “I” for “influence” (enthusiastic, social, optimistic). The “S” for “steadiness” (don’t like to be rushed, calm, supportive). The “C” for “conscientiousness” (independent, objective, cautious; fear making wrong decisions). ODs tend to fall into the latter category. This is what makes them good diagnosticians. However, this type is reluctant to take risks.

Now, everyone exhibits each of the behaviors from time to time but it is important to understand our strengths and also where we are vulnerable.

Accomplishing anything involves risk. When starting a new practice, there is a lot of risk and the more successful you become the larger the concern about protecting it.

I believe everyone reading this has something on their business bucket list that lies just on the other side of fear. Fear is critical to survival. It protects us. If we only feared what was life-threatening, we’d be a very different society. Instead we have irrational fears based on traumas, bad experiences, or those handed down fears from ill-advised relatives.

Fears are thoughts that we create based on past experiences and imprint onto our psyche.

These fears are created, perpetuated and held within our minds. Sometimes they become so intense that we develop anxieties and they cripple our progress.


By giving in to fear, we cannot grow. Fear of failure is common but it keeps smart doctors from progressing in their careers. Never daring to risk failure leaves doctors feeling overwhelmed and stagnated.

Understanding that most optometrists are analytical and comfortable making decisions based on data, here are some basic questions you can ask yourself to overcome your fear of trying something new:

  • What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail? What’s on your bucket list that you’ve put off out of fear that it can’t be accomplished?
  • What is the best thing that could happen as a result of your success? If you went after what you want, what would success look like for your business?
  • If you tried it and failed, what’s the worst that could happen?
  • Who is already achieving your goal? Who can mentor you through the riskiest part of moving forward?
  • Does the potential for attaining your goal justify the possibility of failure? If you truly don’t believe it does, then let it go and move on.

Author Jack Canfield said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Don’t be afraid to go after what you want.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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