Over the last month and a half I have read numerous articles as well as a couple of books talking about the importance of failure in success. Most suggest failure is the only way to achieve success. I would agree with this.
But, what about those of us who fear failure? What are we to do? Because failure in the mind of someone who fears it tends to say three things. First, we aren’t good enough. Second, we don’t have what it takes. And, third, this was your last chance!
Those of you who have struggled with this fear understand where I’m coming from. Those of you who don’t, well, maybe you know someone who needs to read this!
In the middle of failure, it is imperative we have the right mindset. If we don’t, the three thoughts above will derail us! So, what is the right mindset?
Failure is Inevitable
I played sports in high school. Some of you played college sports or even played on the professional level. I am not aware of anyone who NEVER lost a game. Unfortunately today’s youth sports in some segments of the population are filled with people who don’t want to damage a child’s psyche by telling them they lost. So, we are raising kids that don’t know how to handle the failure of a loss, learn from it and improve. In the real world, failure is inevitable. It is up to each of us to respond to it properly and learn from it! Our kids would do well to learn that lesson as well.
Failure isn’t permanent
This is a big one. When we deal with the fear of failure, there is a deep belief it is somehow permanent. Well, it’s only permanent if we allow it. But, if we can capture the learning, change and grow, it is a pathway to much bigger things.
Failure doesn’t define me, it refines me
I remember a speaker saying this one time. “Many of you are struggling and fighting for what you want. And it seems that at every turn, you get knocked down again. Well, don’t despise the process. You have to go through this if you want to achieve great things.” I like that. See, our mindset matters. Failure is a stepping stone if we understand we must be refined in order to get to where we want to go in life. Lessons learned from failure make a greater impact on us than we realize.
Remember the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness? In it Will Smith’s character got knocked down over and over again. He was going through a refining process. He refused to believe it was permanent. How many of us might have been tempted to give up. He didn’t. He learned, struggled, grew and eventually things took off for him!
Doing nothing isn’t failure, it’s giving up on yourself
Have you heard this statement, “If you never set a goal, you’ll never be disappointed?” If you believe that, you aren’t eliminating disappointment, you are only delaying it. Laying on your deathbed can you live with yourself if you never really attempted to achieve your full potential? Ultimately, it isn’t about what we get from this world that creates success. It is what we give to this world and leave behind that defines success! So, doing nothing should NEVER be an option. The world needs you!
Here are a few things for you to think about. Things that have helped me and continue to move me closer to where I want to go. Things that as a man who at times still struggles with that fear of failure, help me keep on keeping on, unwilling to allow the vicissitudes of life get me!
Master the Art of Managing Failure
A lot of us are so afraid to fail that we don’t take action with confidence and conviction. This alone can cause failure. At the very least, it causes us to play trying not to lose. The result? We slow dance our way to failure in a protectionist mode, all the while thinking we are on the track toward success.
If you are trying a new marketing method or trying a new sales approach, stop dabbling! Take action quickly, work hard and give it 100%. If it doesn’t work, figure it out fast, make the necessary changes and improvements and move on. If you are attempting to change the culture of your organization, don’t try…….do it! But, if certain methodologies aren’t gaining traction and it is failing, don’t give up on the overall vision to change the culture. Determine what isn’t working quickly and change tactics! Learn from your mistakes.
LEARN EARLY AND LEARN IT ONCE
Well, I can tell you that I have NOT kept this one. Yep, I’ve had to learn the same lesson over and over again at times. But, I will say this. Each time, there has been something I have extrapolated from the failure that has propelled me. And, I am getting better at learning the lessons once. For those of you who are in your 20’s, you will be light years ahead of those of us who still fall into this trap from time to time if you can manage this one right.
NEVER STOP DREAMING - KEEP YOUR VISION IN FRONT OF YOU
I remember a time when my wife and I were in dire straits! We were struggling financially. Seemed like every time we started to get some traction we got knocked back. There were a couple of times I remember when our oldest two were younger where she and I were going through the pockets of our clothes and pulling cushions from our couch and chair searching for money to buy food. Yes, it got that bad!
At that time, when there was a part of me that wanted to throw in the towel, call myself a complete failure and totally give up, I remembered my dreams and where I wanted to go. I reminded myself of the vision I had for my life and my family. It wasn’t easy, but at those times, THAT was what kept me from giving up!
I don’t sit around stewing over the past. I think I learned that from my dad! There is nothing you can do to change the past. But, you can change your future. We can change our futures. It really is a choice. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. That doesn’t mean change is easy. Everything in us can fight it at times. Change can be painful. But, we are either going through the pain of change or we will eventually go through pain of always getting the same thing different day. Maybe it’s time for you to commit yourself to using failure as a springboard toward greater success! Maybe it’s time to decide that good enough isn’t good enough any longer! Doing that will guarantee failure will never be permanent!
Speaking of the future...
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