When I ask clients about their biggest fear, what I hear most is: fear of failure.
We are a society of overachievers, and for many, failure is not an option. We’re expected to produce the right results every time. We must succeed, no matter what.
“Many people dream of success. To me success can only be achieved through repeated failures and introspection. In fact, success represents the one percent of your work that results from the ninety percent that is called failure – Soichiru Hond, founder of Honda Industries.
But here’s the truth:
It’s not our failures that limit who we are, but the belief that our failures define us.
We stop ourselves from grabbing the golden ring of success because we don’t know if we can reach it. We play from the sidelines, watching others take risks, and wishing we could do that. We hold ourselves back before we’ve even had a chance to find out how far we can go.
We are ALL afraid of failing in some way.
These last two years have been a time of great transitions, but it has also offered us the opportunity to create transformation. In a time of deep self-reflection, we are coming to terms with our past, and the acknowledgement that life may never the same again.
But instead of looking backwards, we must look forward and set goals to pursue our dreams of a better tomorrow. For every failure we have encountered in life, there is the gift of trying again.
When you avoid failure, you also avoid risk. Without risk, there is no innovation or moving forward.
My acronym for RISK is Respect Your Intention and Show Kourage.
You take risks when you ask for something you want, when you push harder than you thought possible, when you stand up for what you believe in. All of these risks bring the gift of experience, knowledge and fulfillment in life.
My life is replete with failure.
I chose the road less traveled and found myself wandering into some ugly and emotionally devastating situations before I began to take control of my life. When I started my career late in life as a coach, I knew a lot about people, but I knew nothing about starting a business.
My failures were pretty dramatic. Too much money spent on programs that were not right for me. Coaches who didn’t help me move out of my own way. Chasing magic bullets that missed the mark entirely. Lots of disappointment, frustration and expectations that eventually vanished into thin air when success finally showed up. A continual iteration called life.
Here’s the simple fact about failure. It’s simply a decision, a choice, an expectation, a direction that didn’t go the way you had planned.
There are several ways to look at failure:
- Seeing that you are off course
- Realizing you need to learn more
- Finding you need help
- Exploring your options
- Discovering you’ve been misinformed
- Experimenting with new ideas
The biggest failure is the failure to try.
The fear of failure stops you from taking life-changing decisions. It also holds you in a place of limitation where the fear of not getting what you think you want stops you in your tracks.
We all make mistakes. It’s a normal part of living. We experiment. We get curious. We try something new when we don’t have evidence that it will work or go our way.
Sometimes we are obsessed with perfection, and for that individual failure is not an option. Perfection and failure are tied together to indicate that somehow, we are not good enough.
Mistakes are lessons to help us learn. We are all failing our way to success.
The Japanese, a culture of exactitude, and precision have the art of Wabi-Sabi. The art of impermanence to remind us that life is imperfect. Nothing is truly perfect or permanent. So why do we bother to cling to the notion that we can make it so!
One of the most powerful indicators of long-term success is learning from our mistakes. Having a positive attitude and taking the next step is key to failing our way to success.
What I have learned from my failures is simple. Every time I’ve admitted I couldn’t do something; someone came to help me. Every time I’ve made a mistake and was willing to admit it, hence be vulnerable, I’ve found support and encouragement by the bucketful.
Thomas Edison is the example often used about his experiments to invent a lightbulb. When asked how he failed he replied, “I didn’t fail. I just found a thousand ways it didn’t work!”
Next time you confront a failure in your life, there is only one word to say. “Next!”