‘The definition of success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.’
We are raised to think that failure is bad. But to be honest, I believe it is the foundation to our success.
As a career coach, I feel very privileged to have my clients share their vulnerabilities and fears with me. Especially when it comes to their perception of failure.
Fear of failure is a sensitive topic that sometimes can generate anxiety and hold people back from great things.
In my experience most people think of failure as…
- The Enemy.
- Avoidable if they don’t try and live a risk-free life.
- Irreversible and can’t be fixed.
- A humiliation.
- Ruining their career.
Based on experience, I can share that none of the above perceptions of failure are true.
In the past, I have seen failure debilitate people and hold them back from achieving greatness.
Sometimes fear can stop us from living the life we want to live and stop us from doing the things we want to do.
The most famous entrepreneurs in history have failed over and over before they mastered their product or service.
In fact, the average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.
Henry Ford’s businesses failed and left him bankrupt 5 times before he founded the Ford Motor Company.
Thomas Edison made 3000 failed attempts before the first commercially viable long-burning incandescent light bulb was created.
Jack Ma, creator of Alibaba failed college 3 times and was even turned down, for a job at a fast-food restaurant.
Founder and CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos is the perfect example of someone who connects with failure. 9 times out of 10 his innovative ideas over the course of his career have failed.
My favourite quote on limiting beliefs and fear of failure is hockey great Wayne Gretzky when he said:
‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’
This article will help you to EMBRACE failure as a necessary part of success if…
- You have been faced with crushing disappointment and can’t seem to move on.
- Have become paralyzed by failure.
- Are sick of using excuses as a barrier to confront your fear head on.
When was the last time you embraced failure in your life?
In many cases, my coaching conversations around fear of failure start with clients sharing that they are stuck in a rut, or not learning or growing or maybe being bored professionally and personally.
In my opinion, these are red flags and a cry that something needs to change in their attitude and behaviour toward fear.
In many cases, further discussion reveals that they are not straying from their poorly conditioned routines both at home and at work.
In fact, they are resisting and refusing to do anything outside of their comfort zone.
They are just ‘going with the flow’ and not challenging themselves.
These are signs that fear has enveloped their identity.
Believing that moving forward with dreams or ideas may involve making mistakes.
Viewing mistakes such as lapses in judgement as a sign of weakness or shame.
So, they continue with the status quo.
When it comes right down to it, I know of only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don’t.
The difference between high performers and average performers is their perception of failure.
How people see failure and deal with it, impacts every aspect of their lives.
We need to look at failure differently. I believe that everyone has the potential to overcome any problems, missteps, or hardships.
Here are 4 ways high performers look at failure, as part of their growth, development and as tools to achievement:
- High Performers refuse rejection.
People who don’t give up trying new things do NOT base their self worth on their performance.
Rather than saying ‘I am a failure’, they say ‘I made a mistake, or I missed that one -this time.’ They are accountable for their missteps, but do not take failure personally.
- High Performers see Failure as Temporary.
Most people see failure as permanent and cannot seem to get out of their heads and are constantly stuck in that limiting belief.
High Performers see their failure as a small blip in the road and believe in their own potential to move forward.
- High Performers view Failures as Isolated Incidents.
They view a mistake as a momentary event, not a lifelong experience. They refuse to go into the rabbit hole of despair and limiting their beliefs because of their failures.
- High Performers Bounce Back!
One common trait is that they have the resilience to bounce back after a failure, mistake, lapse in judgement or error.
They are able to move forward no matter what happens.
This is the most important message…
FAILURE DOES NOT MAKE YOU A FAILURE.
DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY AND THIS WILL HELP YOU TO GET YOURSELF OUT OF A FAILURE MINDSET.
In many cases, learning to build genuine self confidence in this area will support your journey to overcome fear.
I would recommend the following blog from victorypivot called ‘3 steps to bulletproof your confidence’
The next steps will involve a lot of self reflection and taking a deep dive into your past, present and future.
Remember, overcoming your fear of failure is a process and you need to be patient and kind to yourself while performing these exercises.
Take out your journal and jot down answers to the following questions:
- Past: List some of your past failures from personal and career perspectives. What did you learn about yourself and who you are?
- Today: What is the exact fear that is holding you back (i.e., money, rejection, making a mistake, family/friend reaction, looking weird or out of place).
- Future: What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failure?
- Future: What would you create or attempt to change about your life if fear were not an issue?
There is no right or wrong answer.
It is about exploring the questions that are preventing you from living your dreams and your life to the fullest.
Once you have completed the above exercise, take a deep dive into an area of your life where you have repeatedly failed and journal the following:
- Examine and write down your expectations for that area of your life.
- Are they realistic and doable?
- Do you expect everything to go perfectly?
- Do you believe to be perfect during the task or activity or project?
- How many mistakes do you think you will make?
- Make sure to adjust your expectations.
- Find new ways to do your work.
- Brainstorm at least 5-10 different ways you could approach the area of your life you have chosen.
- Try at least half of them.
- Vow to be resilient and bounce back.
- No matter how many times you fall, pick yourself back up and keep going – keeping momentum is the key!
FREE YOURSELF FROM THE CURSE OF VIEWING FAILURE AS THE ENEMY!
BREAK YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR NEGATIVE THINKING PATTERN.
To internalize these ideas into habits, I recommend the following book: ‘From Fear of Failure to the Finish Line by Cindy Buckner Strake.
Fear can be an effective and helpful guide.
Pushing us in the direction our lives need to go.
But this will happen only if we are willing to face that fear, investigate it, be curious and embrace it to see what is on the other side.
To paraphrase Tony Robbins, ‘Turn your SHOULD DO’s to MUST DO’s!’and watch your life change for the better!
In summary, you can embrace failure by
- Removing the ‘you’ from failure.
- Not viewing failure as personal.
- Seeing failure as temporary.
- Adopting the high-performance attitude when it comes to viewing failure.
- Realizing that failure does not make YOU a failure.
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These tools will help you grow, reach higher heights so you can become the best version of you!
I sincerely wish you the best on your journey to enhance your life!
George Andreas, Founder