New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

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Emmanuel Acho

Overcoming The Fear Of Failure & Living a Life Without Limits


Is the fear of failure holding you back from achieving your dreams?

Do you have a dream or goal that you’ve been wanting to achieve but keep putting off because you’re afraid of failure? It’s time to face your fear and start taking steps toward reaching your goal. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes — everyone makes them. And it’s how you learn and grow. Every successful person has failed at some point, but they didn’t let that stop them from reaching what they want in life. So start taking action today and see how far you can go!

Friends, welcome back to The School of Greatness. My guest today is a good friend of mine, Emmanuel Acho. He’s a former NFL player, a bestselling author, and a sports analyst. In this episode, we talked about living a life without limits, how to handle criticism, what’s stopping us from reaching our greatest potential, overcoming the fear of failure, and so much more. So brace up because this is going to be an exciting conversation.

Who Is Emmanuel Acho?

Emmanuel Acho is a son of Nigerian immigrant parents who grew up in Dallas with his three siblings. He was drafted into the NFL in 2012 by the Cleveland Browns, and later he played with the Philadelphia Eagles. At the same time, he also earned his Master’s degree in sports psychology at the University of Texas, taking classes during the off-seasons. In 2016, he joined ESPN as a national football analyst and was named a 2018 Forbes Under 30 Selection.

Emmanuel is also a Fox Sports analyst and a New York Times bestselling author of the book, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, a primer on racism and race. Currently, he is creating the online video series called Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. His other book, Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits, is another book you should check out, and we talk more about this in the episode. 

Living a Life Without Limits

Are you living a life without limits? Or are you playing it safe, not wanting to push yourself too hard in case you fail? What if I told you that you can’t fail if you don’t set a goal? It’s true! This may seem foolish, but when you don’t set a goal, the outcome is always known — you know you won’t achieve what you desire. However, if you set a goal, you could achieve more than what you originally planned. So forget about perfectionism and give yourself the opportunity to succeed by simply starting. And who knows? You may surprise yourself along the way. 

“If I’m gonna have a goal, would I focus on the end when I’m at the beginning? Instead, I direct all of my energy toward something. … Imagine a life without failure. Why? Because when you don’t set a goal, you can’t fail. So many of us combat failure — failure in our lives. So many of us are trying to figure out how can I become the best version of myself. But we can’t become the best version of ourselves because we’re still mourning our former selves. We’re still mourning our failures from our past. We’re still mourning our defeats from our past. We’re still mourning our scars from our yesterdays and yesteryears. I’m done mourning my scars. Now it’s all about having an objective with no limitations.” – Emmanuel Acho

We all have an ideal vision of who we want to be. We set ambitious goals and work tirelessly toward them, but sometimes we hit a roadblock. We can’t seem to get beyond our old habits and behaviors no matter how hard we try. The reason for this is that we’re still mourning our old selves. We’re holding on to that version of ourselves even though it’s no longer serving us. In order to become the best version of ourselves, we need to let go of the past and embrace the present. This isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it in the end. So don’t give up on yourself — keep fighting for your dreams despite what others are saying and amidst criticisms.

How to Handle Criticism

Everyone is bound to experience criticism in their life at one point or another. We invest our time and energy into something — a project, a relationship, a hobby, or even sports — and then someone comes along and criticizes it. It can be tough to hear honest feedback when we’re emotionally attached to what we’ve created. But if we want to grow as people and professionals, it’s essential that we learn how to take criticism gracefully. It can help us identify our weaknesses and areas we need to improve. The key is learning how to handle criticism constructively so that we can make the most of it. 

“Criticism is the cost of praise. … We don’t realize that enough. … For those watching sports news, Naomi Osaka, the number one tennis player in the world, just a couple of years ago, tried to stop a tennis match because somebody said, ‘You suck,’ … and she went to the judge and [said], ‘Can we stop the match? I can get them kicked out.’ … At the end of the post-game press, tears came into her eyes for different reasons. And I was just like, criticism is the cost of praise. … You can’t play if you don’t want criticism. … It’s like criticism comes with it.” – Emmanuel Acho

We all want to be praised. It feels good, and it’s the ultimate sign that we’re doing something right. But the flip side of praise is criticism, and nobody likes to hear that. Unfortunately, if you want to achieve anything great in life, you have to learn to deal with criticism. The trick is to not let it get you down — after all, it’s the cost of praise. So embrace it! Welcome criticism as a sign that you’re on the right track and use it to help you improve your work. Remember, greatness doesn’t come easy — but it’s worth it! So don’t let criticism stop you from reaching your greatest potential.

“Expectations minus reality equals disappointment.” @EmmanuelAcho  

What’s Stopping Us From Reaching Our Greatest Potential?

We all have the potential to do great things. We all have the ability to make a difference in this world. And yet, so many of us never reach our greatest potential. Why is that? What’s stopping us from achieving our goals and fulfilling our destiny? Oftentimes, it’s ourselves. We let our fears and doubts hold us back instead of chasing after our dreams. But it’s never too late to change that. With a little bit of courage and determination, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

“The reason we don’t achieve our highest [potential] isn’t because we are not skilled. It isn’t because we’re not talented. It isn’t even necessarily because we don’t want it. It’s because we don’t realize how high we could achieve.” – Emmanuel Acho

It’s easy to get bogged down by the monotony of everyday life. We go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to bed — rinse and repeat. Day after day, we let our potential dwindle instead of striving to be the best version of ourselves. We allow ourselves to be limited by our own beliefs about what we can achieve. But what if we realized that we could do more? What if we dared to dream big? By achieving our highest potential, we can make a difference in not only our lives but also the lives of those around us. So forget about the status quo and dare to dream big! Strive for excellence and aim for the stars, even if it means facing setbacks and temporary failures along the way.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure

We all have fears. Fear of failure is one of the most common ones, and it can hold us back from achieving our goals. It can be tough to overcome the fear of failure. But it’s important to remember that failure is part of the process of learning and growing. Every successful person has failed at some point — it’s how they’ve learned to become successful. So don’t let fear of failure hold you back — embrace it and use it as a tool to help you achieve your goals. Remember, success is never guaranteed, but if you don’t try, you’ll definitely never know what could have been. However, our special guest today has a different take on failure:

“I don’t think people fail. What I say is this: … I didn’t fail, … as long as I get up, I win. … So many people think they failed. They didn’t fail. They stopped. … You win as long as you get up.” – Emmanuel Acho

Think about the last time you failed. Maybe you bombed a presentation in front of your boss and colleagues. Or maybe you tried to start a new business, and it failed miserably. Whatever it was, it’s safe to say that you probably felt pretty crappy afterward. But here’s the thing — there’s no such thing as failure. People don’t fail — they stop. But if you’re willing to try again, you could reach whatever goal you set for yourself.

Why You Should Listen to This Emmanuel Acho Podcast Episode Right Now…

Guys, this interview with Emmanuel Acho is just amazing. Listen to the full episode for more, and don’t forget to share this with someone who needs to hear it: You could change someone’s life today.

Follow Emmanuel on social media. He’s on Instagram and Twitter. If you want to get more wisdom from him, subscribe to his YouTube channel for access to his motivational talks and interview conversations with popular personalities and celebrities. You can also visit his website if you want to learn more about his books.

I want to acknowledge Emmanuel for being authentic and for his constant commitment to service. To conclude our conversation, I asked him for his definition of greatness, and his answer needs to be remembered:

“My definition of greatness would be stepping outside of the box that others have built around you, and constantly becoming the greatest version of yourself. … We have to constantly evolve and learn to fall in love with the evolutions of ourselves. So now, step outside of these boxes. There is a box there. Step outside of it — let’s evolve and let’s just become the best version of ourselves.” – Emmanuel Acho

When we think about being great, usually the first things that come to mind are doing something out of the ordinary or achieving something extraordinary. But what if greatness is not about accomplishing some dramatic feats? Instead, it’s just simply about becoming our best selves. Stretching ourselves and stepping outside of our comfort zones can help us discover new talents and abilities and ultimately become greater than we ever thought possible. So let’s embrace the challenge of greatness and strive to be our very best!

If no one’s told you lately, I want to remind you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter! So, go out there and do something great.

To Greatness,

Lewis Howes - Signature

“We can’t become the best version of ourselves because we are still mourning our former self.” @EmmanuelAcho  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What should people think about setting goals?
  • How do you handle negativity internally and externally?
  • Why do we care about other peoples’ opinions?
  • What can people do to build self confidence when they’re doubting themselves?

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How not to get down on yourself for not achieving a goal.
  • Why you should see failure as temporary.
  • How to internally and externally handle criticism. 
  • What is stopping us from reaching our greatest potential?
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

Connect with
Emmanuel Acho

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:


Kaibu by Killercats

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