You’re going to fail! Yes, it’s a fact and one that many people don’t like to hear let alone accept. But accepting the truth that all successful people have failed on their journey to success is precisely what you need as motivation if you ever find yourself frozen in your tracks.
Many people avoid failure like the plague. Holding themselves back from even trying because it’s the safe thing to do. Besides, if you don’t try, you can’t fail, right?
Let’s take it a little further now. It’s one thing to admit you are or will be a failure, to read it or to say it out loud. But take a moment to reflect on how it makes you feel? My guess is, anywhere on the scale from ‘bummer’ to ‘paralyzing fear’.
However, there’s a different way to look at failure. A way in which you will become enlightened, open and accepting of circumstance. Heck, you may even begin to look for opportunities to fail just just so you can find the secret that lies within the failure.
What’s the secret?
I want you to take a minute now and imagine that you’ve been working diligently towards a goal and everything has been going right. So perfect, in fact, that you think you’re definitely onto something because it seems like everything is magically falling into place. The right people are showing up with the right skill set. You are introduced to others who can help you advance your project. The stars truly are aligning for you.
An unforeseen and unexpected roadblock hits you and all your plans come to a stop. But it also uncovers an interesting option you never considered. In fact, this new solution may in many ways be better than your initial plan. In more ways than one, you come to understand that you have just discovered the ultimate resolution to your problem and that your original plan was, if it hadn’t already, doomed to fail. Hitting this roadblock could have been a major issue at first, until you discovered the greater understanding of the situation before you.
This would not have been possible had you not given yourself the permission to dive a little deeper into your failure. But the interesting part is that it’s only possible with the information you have discovered perfectly wrapped within your failure.
You’re perspective on the subject is the key ingredient that allows you to see your failure for what it is: a definitive way in which your original idea did not work!
It’s called a reframe and, by understanding that, you’ve just learned the most valuable lesson hidden in an unsuspecting event, you’ve turned that failure into a success.
Reframing a situation and viewing it from another perspective is precisely the secret sauce that successful people swear by. Always seeing beyond the situation at hand and being able to actively train your mind to seek out another possibility.
This requires questions such as:
- Why did my idea not work?
- What did work?
- At which point did it go wrong?
- If I placed myself in the viewers/client’s/recipient’s shoes, what would they see?
- If this were to work, would this instance matter?
Troubleshooting the failure is key to finding an alternative that will work, but sometimes you have to push beyond your limits and ask unsuspecting questions to get you closer to a solution.
But reframing, is it really that simple? Yes, it is. Once you’ve begun to approach all actions from the mindset of discovering the lesson in every failure.
But, there’s one caveat, you must be willing to fail in order to find it, acknowledge it and accept it. That’s often harder than it looks. The important thing to remember is that you have not failed so much, but rather have simply discovered a sure way that doesn’t produce your desired outcome.
If you’re anything like me, you want to put your best effort forth. It takes courage to actively dive into the failure you just experienced as it can easily remind you of your shortcomings. If you’re thinking to yourself “I always do what I say and act from my most ethically guided decisions”, I want you to remember this: Even priests begin their day asking for forgiveness for their shortcomings. This telling fact alone places everyone on the same plane and proves that no matter what our status in society is, there is always room for improvement.
How can you turn your failures into lessons, you ask?
Below are 3 simple steps to turn your negative outcome, into a positive one.
Step 1: You have to want it
The first step is wanting to be the best person you can be. Choosing to function from the best place possible, while knowing good and well that you will fall short at times.
This knowing should not however dissuade you from ever trying. Paralyzing fear doesn’t serve anyone. In fact, it’s precisely that, a fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. Sure, there are times when fear warns us of nearing danger, but we aren’t living in a saber-tooth-tiger-world anymore. The fear we feel now, especially when it comes to taking action, is typically coming from a place of not knowing the outcome. Not knowing how to accept if things don’t go your way.
What helps you get through your fear in this situation is having a reason greater than your fear to keep you going. A simple question to ask yourself is “What’s the worst that can happen?” By imagining what the worse possible outcome is, you come to realize that it may not be that bad after all.
Step 2: Identify your values
Discovering and defining what values you live your life by bring to light the key definitions on how you describe the difference between “right” and “wrong”. Having these values front and centre is a valuable tool that guides you to the precise information you require to create success in your life.
Step 3: Search for the golden nuggets
You can turn any shortcomings to your advantage and have them lead you on the path to success, if you take the time to reflect and discover what you have learnt from the failure and uncover ways to make it better the next time around.
It’s important to mention here that simply failing all over the place, especially over and over again, is not what I am talking about here. If you find yourself simply reliving the same actions and expecting a different outcome, well, then I’ll remind you of Einstein’s famous quote about Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.
Knowing what to look for requires a good understanding of why you wanted the know the information in the first place. Who the information was for. How it was going to positively affect the people involved.
Having a strategic purpose helps you become focused on the ideal outcome and in turn places you on the right path.
Instead of reeling in pity or growing your self-doubt, sit down and dissect the situation. Sift through the actions you took, paying close attention to how you felt, how you showed up and what outside influences were present.
With each failure spend some time identifying: What didn’t work? Why it didn’t work? What you can do different? What did you learn?
The answers to these questions will help you reframe the failure as a learning tool and make it a lesson on what not to do in the future.
Remember that the person who never fails either 1) never tried or 2) is completely living in a fantasy land and their greatest failure of all will be that of not learning from the rich living experiences that we are meant to live!
So, FAIL HARD. And then regroup, gather your thoughts and ideas, and give yourself the gift of realizing that you just figured out a way that doesn’t work for you. You will soon master your ability of turning everything into successes and even reducing your amount of failures. Now, go out and fail!