When we talk about success and happiness, it is important that we also flip the coin and talk about failure. And yet many of us find failure much more difficult to talk about, and many simply don’t talk about it at all. There is a very heavy stigma attached to failing and talking about our failures despite the fact that both success and failure are natural and unavoidable parts of life. So, why do so many of us fear failure and thus, look at failure as the worst possible outcome?
Maybe it’s because the model of success that we all strive for is based on those high achievers at the top of the mountain. We fixate on those who seem to make achievement look easy and effortless. And in the midst of all the hype and winning, we forget the real story that accompanies ALL stories of success. The slips, the stumbles, the struggles to move forward through all types of obstacles, including one’s own fears and self-doubts. We seem to overlook the realities and focus only on the success. And because of this, we have a very misguided view of what it takes to achieve these great feats. A misguided view that the slipping, stumbling and struggle are not part and parcel of the success that we so fervently celebrate.
The fact is that mistakes and failure, the slipping, the stumbling and struggle, these are all a very REAL part of life. We cannot run away from them, hide from them of avoid them no matter how hard we try! So, instead of fearing them, why not embrace them? Why not make it okay to make mistakes and to fail? Why not make it just another passing phase that we undergo and experience an move through on our journey to success?
Okay let’s turn off emotion and look at this logically. Stop for a moment and ask yourself, what actually happens when we fail? Yes, we feel sad, sometimes helpless. Often we feel embarrassed and upset at ourselves or the circumstances outside of our control that brought about this failure. And when this cloud of emotion clears a little, our failure usually makes us question ourselves. Why is this happening to us? Why can’t I ever succeed? We start thinking about how we didn’t deserve to fail. We associate failure with losers. If we do fail, it feels like all heaven and earth is against us. We feel unworthy, stupid and depressed.
Yet in reality experiencing failure doesn’t mean YOU ARE a failure. Failure doesn’t mean you’re less-than. Failure doesn’t mean that you’re unworthy. Failure doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished nothing with your life. Failure doesn’t mean you’re a loser. Failure definitely doesn’t mean you’re inferior to everyone else. And failure certainly doesn’t mean you’re stupid or unworthy. All of that is total BS.
What failure does mean, is that you have so much more to learn. Failure means that you’re not perfect and that your patience and perseverance has yet to be rewarded.
How many successful people can you think about who were once seen as so called ‘failures’? Two that immediately come to mind for me are:
- Oprah Winfrey. Did you know that she was once fired from her first TV job for being dull and stiff on air (apparently!). She is now one of the most successful and wealthy women on earth.
- J.K. Rowling. She was a single mom living off welfare with very low self-esteem when she first started writing “Harry Potter”. She is now a billionaire and wrote a series for the novel.
And each of us has a choice:
- Let failure define you. Focus on the mistakes you make and struggles you have as being who you are. Believing that you are a failure, allowing failure to derail you every time it shows it’s ugly head. Giving up at the first sign of failure, believing there is no point in continuing.
- Or to not let your failures define you. To realise failure is temporary. To use failure to spur you on, to work harder, to put forth even more effort to learn what you need to learn to succeed. Anyone can rise from “failure”.
So a couple of tips (ones I often tell myself), next time failure and fear of failure start to crowd your thinking.
- Stop expecting perfection, see mistakes and failures as opportunities to grow and learn.
- Let go of the outcome and allow yourself to be fully excited about the process of learning and growing, the process of life.
- When you need to, have a cry when things don’t go your way. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s an acceptable way to let go of your feelings. If you let those feelings build up without release, you’ll have a much harder time dealing with them later.
- Never compare your life to what another person reflects online, don’t believe everything you see. If you feel like your life pales in comparison, realise that you are only glimpsing a part of their life – a highlight reel perhaps!
- Don’t isolate yourself, don’t withdraw, if anything immediately take one small step to put yourself back out there in the crowd and see most people are too busy to see your failure, too busy focusing on their own challenges.
Most powerful, when failure and fear of failure take a grip, and your mind fills with all the negatives, the whys, think of something you are thankful for right now. It could be the cup of coffee you had this morning, a motivating quote, a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Negative thoughts will have no power over you if you learn to stop lingering on them.
For sure, you can let mistakes and failures smack you in the face and today, be the braver and bigger person, break the trend. Think about something that makes you happy and repeat. Never stop learning. Let life be a challenge and always look at what is possible.
Your life is unique, your life is a process or both success and failure, the difference you will make is when you decide to look fear in the eye, accept it, stand back up and take action.
Overwhelmed with everything you want to/need to do? Thinking the climb is getting too hard? Book a 20-minute discovery session with me to see how I can help you clear some head space and have you focus on creating the business and lifestyle you desire. Book a discovery session here and join my Facebook group Quantum Leap for Women