Season 1     EPISODE 5
November 12, 2021

Unrealistic expectations and self-doubt | Zubin Sharma

What happens when a series of professional decisions shatter your sense of identity? Zubin Sharma answers this question by telling us about his experience as founder and CEO of Project Potential, a nonprofit working on sustainable development in the rural district of Kishanganj, Bihar.

2 min read

Zubin Sharma, the CEO of Project Potential—a nonprofit working on sustainable development in the rural district of Kishanganj, Bihar—talks about the problems he faced at the start of his entrepreneurial journey, which led him to question his self-worth as he navigated the challenges of building a successful social impact organisation.


“By this point—four years into starting Project Potential—having failed twice, the voice of self-doubt became much louder. Despite this, I still sought, with considerable effort, to ignore it. During some moments, I began to wonder if I was the problem; was I becoming a version of those case studies of development work where outsiders create more harm than good?

However, rather than acknowledge it, I unconsciously allowed self-doubt to take the steering wheel, which pushed me to work even harder to figure out a workable model to achieve our vision. There was no question that we needed to find a workable model. But in hindsight, I think I was partly driven by the need to prove my own self-worth to myself through the success of the model.”

Read more

  1. Read Zubin’s story on Failure Files.
  2. Read more failure stories on Failure Files.
  3. Check out some ideas and tools from Fail Forward to help your organisation take risks, learn, adapt, and fail intelligently.
  4. Understand why the social sector must recognise and talk about failure.
  5. Learn why talking about failure is crucial for growth.

Want to share your failure story? Learn more about what we’re looking for here, and share your pitch/story on

We want IDR to be as much yours as it is ours. Tell us what you want to read.