Embracing Failure Is How To Succeed
What do most executives, leaders, politicians, artists, inventors, engineers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, athletes and other high-achievers have in common?
They’re terrified of failure.
The concept of failing at something they’ve worked so hard for haunts them. But should it?
Why, exactly, do we put such a cultural emphasis on failure, and what would it look like if we decided failing didn’t matter so much?
It’s an important question. Today we’re going to talk about why people hate failure as much as they do, and how to move past those feelings in order to fail less, succeed more and… dare I say it… have fun along the way.
Embracing failure to succeed
1. Understand why failure haunts you
What is failure? Simply put, failing means you tried something that didn’t work. Full stop.
If failure were a computer program, the program would attempt to run, encounter an error, and close the program.
Think about that for a moment. If a program on your computer closes, is that the end of the world? Do you cry, stand up and leave your job?
Is it life-threatening?
Is it going to ruin your career, love life, friendships, and self-esteem?
Absolutely not! In fact, what most of us do when our computer crashes is… you guessed it… turn the computer off and on again, restart the program, and get the application running.
So why does failure make most high-achiever’s skin crawl?
It’s because they tie their self-worth to success and failure. They believe failing is synonymous with being unworthy. If you don’t get something right on the first try, it feels embarrassing, shameful and awful.
The first step to succeeding more is knowing, understanding and accepting that failure is NOT synonymous with unworthiness. It means absolutely nothing at all. You may have created false beliefs in your mind that associate failure with negative emotions, but that’s all they are: false beliefs.
Try this right now: write a journal about all the good things that came out of a failure. Talk about a time when failure led to something better. Talk about a time when failure taught you something. Talk about a time you failed and still had fun.
2. Accept that “not failing” is not your goal
The next step in embracing failure involves rewriting your own personal goals. Right now, your goal is not to fail.
But do you notice how the things you tend to focus on grow?
If you’re always laser-focused on not screwing up, you’re going to screw up more. It’s like The Game—the mind game where you lose if you think about the game itself. The more you try not to think about it, the more you find yourself thinking about it.
Same goes for failure.
So, in order to avoid failure and find more success, you need to develop a new goal. A goal that lets you have fun and embrace all the possibilities life has to offer. A goal that says, “Sure, I can fail. I can fail as much as I want, and it doesn’t matter at all.”
And that goal is…
3. Measure your efforts, not your success
Your goal, from this day forward, is not to AVOID failure. Your goal is to be radically courageous by taking as many shots as you possibly can.
See how many new activities you can try. Try as much as you can. So what if you fail once, twice, a thousand times? Who cares? Big whoop—we make failure into a huge deal, but it’s really not.
Start that computer program over again. Troubleshoot. Laugh at yourself along the way. Don’t get too attached to outcomes; get attached to the processing of learning new things, making new connections and having fun.
Unmoor yourself from the judgment of others. So what if they care that you failed? You’re not responsible for their feelings. It’s not your business. You’re on your own path—the path of taking as many shots as you can—and nobody can stop you from meeting that goal unless you allow them to.
Embracing failure starts with new goals
Failure is nothing. Failure is dust in the wind. Nobody talks about all the times great figures from history failed—they talk about the people who doggedly persevered, who tried as many things as possible, who saw the obstacles in their way and still kept trying.
Failure contributes to who we are. It’s what allows us to strive for happiness. It’s what leads to a happier, more fulfilled life.
Need more advice on how to stop hating failure? Talk to a coach today.