The Perception of Failure is the Scariest Part
Few things sting worse than realizing you’ve failed at something. Marriage, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship are some of the obvious “heavy” failures that cut deep. How many tests between grade school through higher education do you recall failing? Considering one of the definitions for failure is “lack of success,” ask yourself, “how many things have I had a lack of success in”? This leads me to believe we fail way more often than we succeed. At the very least, there’s a balance between successes and failures. So if failure is so common, something we’ve done maybe hundreds of times, why’s it such a scary concept? Our perception of failure (and its consequences), can cause paralysis, keeping us from taking risks. Although it seems to be something that we should be well-adjusted to, let’s look at three perception shifts to help you bounce back from failure.
You Walked, You Fell, Then You Ran
Considering the evolution you went through from childhood to now, you may have fallen on your face (literally) quite often. That may be a painful reality to face, but there’s a comfort and clarity in admitting it. What’s one thing all of those failures have in common? They were TEMPORARY! You failed at walking many times. As much as it frustrated you, I’m sure you had a few spills that made your mother’s heart skip a beat. Shortly after many plops on your diapered rear, (and a few face-plants), you ran. You lived, (if you’re like me you thrived), after the end of a relationship, with someone you swore you couldn’t live without. Mistakes can pave the way to failure, leading to regret (especially if you’re in a fixed mindset). It seems that a significant reason we fear mistakes is that we’re even more fearful of carrying the heavy weight of regret. (Click here to read how to deal with regret, so that you grow from it). Your failures may have sent you reeling in the moment; however they were indeed temporary. Realizing failure is temporary, is one way to bounce back. It’s a mere pit stop, not a permanent address.
The Rite of Passage
What do J.K. Rowling and Steve Jobs have in common? If you said abundantly successful, rich, and brilliant, you’re correct. Perhaps more importantly, they suffered gnarly failures, before their success. J.K. Rowling found herself dealing with the end of a short marriage, leaving her as a single parent, jobless. She says she was “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” Fast forward to becoming the ninth-best-selling fiction author of all time (estimated 500 million copies sold). With a net worth of nearly 1 billion dollars, the mastermind behind Harry Potter shows how you can have storms raging in multiple areas of life, and be ridiculously successful.
The revolutionary Steve Jobs wasn’t always held in such regard. Let go from the company he began (the $2 billion company that Apple is). That dismissal brought him to the realization that he had a passion for his work, which even the sting of initial failure couldn’t dull. Jobs eventually came full circle, becoming the CEO of the very company he was fired from. In 2005 Jobs stated, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
Einstein’s words, “failure really is just success in progress,” prove that your failures are prerequisites to success. Failure is the sturdiest foundation for success, which the most successful people have built their success upon. What touches your spirit more, a person who got lucky with a winning lotto ticket, or a person who climbed out from under their ashes of failure? Realizing that failure is part of your evolution is liberating and is the second way to bounce back from defeat.
Lessons Come in Many Unwelcome Forms
The third and last way to bounce back from failure is to realize that every failure empowers you with a lesson (albeit in an unwelcome form.) Success isn’t merely a forward vs. backward movement. Your path to success takes you in many directions; every new direction being the possible game-changer but at very least a valuable lesson. When one way doesn’t do the job, it teaches you an experience and removes that way of attacking a problem form your list.
The crucial benefit from these lessons isn’t just crossing an unsuccessful method off your list. It’s strengthening your ability to think in a direction other than forward and backward. I benefited from this lesson, thanks to my business mentor. His lateral thinking helped me around significant roadblocks, teaching me how to think in alternate directions.
Consider a game of chess. The King may be the most powerful piece; however, in the game of life, moving like the knight is #goals. The knight is free from the forward or backward confines. It moves to a square that is two squares away horizontally and one square vertically, or two squares vertically and one square horizontally. Unlike all other standard chess pieces, the knight can jump over all other pieces (of either color) to its destination square.
Implementing These Lessons
The one way in which failure is pretty damn awesome is the fact that it teaches you a great deal about your resiliency. Your self-awareness increases tremendously with every failure (if you take time to engage in some honest reflection). Having self-awareness when reflecting on your failures makes it easier to make the switch from a fixed to a growth mindset. Your future endeavors will get a tremendous boost from your increased self-awareness, as well as your ability to operate in a growth mindset. To read how your self-awareness improves your mindset, click this link. As I posted on my Instagram, “my confidence doesn’t come from my physical appearance. It comes from knowing everything I’ve picked myself up after”. So go out there, leap out of your comfort zone and fail. Go all in. Fail like the brave, beautiful, brilliant soul you are. Fail like your success depends on it because it does.