Embracing Our FAILURES For Future SUCCESS
Why are we so afraid of failure?
Why do we rationalize the THREAT of failure as a valid excuse to NOT pursue our wildest dreams and aspirations?
Like all other things, it probably started when we were young. Remember playing team sports and our parents teaching us that losing was synonymous with failing and failing was bad…very bad?
Slowly and bit by bit that fear of failure has stayed with us and grown inside. Maybe it was the threat of the unknown and all the failure tied to the unknown that prevented you from pursuing your passion. Maybe it was the fear of getting on stage that kept you from trying out for the drama club, or taking up a musical instrument for fear of performing in public? How about the fear of getting rejected that stopped you in your tracks from trying out for that sports team?
As we got older many supposed experts, from our High School guidance counselors to parents, friends, and family, all told us what classes to take (and avoid), what activities to pursue (and avoid), what majors to pursue (and avoid), relationships to pursue (and avoid),and jobs/careers to pursue (and avoid) until we became the preconditioned risk-averse individual that may define you today.
It’s not as if we need others to tell us all the things we can’t do. We are good enough at it ourselves. Psychologists have coined the term “head trash” to explain the fact that 65% of all the things that each person says to themselves ABOUT THEMSELVES is negative!
How do we break out of this vicious cycle of self-loathing and fear of failure that prevents us from taking the risks needed to succeed in new ventures?
Is the fear of the unknown and all its potential failure keeping you anchored to a job that you hate? Have you been stuck in the same industry that you have absolutely ZERO no interest in and passion for, just because there’s comfort in the familiar?
As trite as it may sound now is the ideal time to cast aside those fears of failure and embrace change, take risks, and seek out success. Start small. Set quantifiable “stretch” goals for yourself, both personally and professionally. A stretch goal demands your very best performance and still there is a great likelihood you won’t accomplish it. but hitting 85% of your stretch goal is better than 100% of SAFE goals that never challenge yourself to grow by pushing through your comfort zones.
Consider what the risk is to you that is associated with all the lost opportunities of you not undertaking a challenge due to the risk of failure. They add up tremendously!
Identify the worst case scenario of what failure looks like and compare it to the potential rewards if you are successful. It’s called a COST-BENEFIT analysis.
Understand that even if you fail there is tremendous growth through learning, acquiring self-confidence, developing new skills and becoming more comfortable embracing personal risk. Perhaps it would help if we take failure for what it is…part of the process of learning and growing.
“There is no failure. Only feedback.” –Robert Allen
Failure is simply one component of succeeding and most of us separate it as a separate outcome when in fact it’s directly tied to and required for being successful.
“Failure is an event, never a person.” – William D. Brown
Too many people associate the event of failing with the intrinsic sense of our own self-worth. In fact, we get conditioned to make our own sense of self-worth connected to the OUTCOMES of our actions. When an idea we have fails, it shouldn’t have any reduction in our self-esteem but it can be hard not to let that happen. We internalize that feeling of failure way down inside, like WE were that idea that failed.
What to do???
But you don’t need to think that way. If something you try doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re actively experimenting, that you’re trying, and you’re learning as a result. In that regard, the expression to be a failure (or successful) doesn’t make any sense.
Always have a contingency or fall back plan. Call it a plan “B” so if plan A “FAILS” there is comfort in having a fall back to relive the stress/fear of failing.
Seize the moment and act today! There is no time like the present. The new normal is 15-20% unofficial unemployment, 1 in 4 American workers can be classified as contract, consulting, or independent. Millions of Americans in their 30s to 50s are turning their untapped passions and talents into life-altering career transitions.
As Les Brown has famously said: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.”