MicroMoment Monday: Making Failure Your Friend

MicroMoment Monday: Making Failure Your Friend

One of the Secret Keys to Success and Achievement.


Making Failure Your Friend...

Happy Monday Redline - and Happy February.

Today I want to talk to you about reframing failure in our personal and professional lives.

As I’ve watched my own life grow it’s become very clear that how we handle our loses (or “failures”) is much more important to long term success than how we handle our wins.

I want to read you a few paragraphs from one of my favourite books on mindset - don’t let the title scare you - this book uses ‘common’ language to describe modern positive psychology.

The book is called The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck - and the author is Mark Manson - I highly recommend this book and his blog is also very good. This excerpt comes from a chapter titled: The Failure/Success Paradox...

When Pablo Picasso was an old man, he was sitting in a cafe in Spain, doodling on a used napkin. He was nonchalant about the whole thing, drawing whatever amused him in that moment — kind of the same way teenage boys draw penises on bathroom stalls — except this was Picasso, so his bathroom-stall penises were more like cubist/impressionist awesomeness laced on top of faint coffee stains.

Anyway, some woman sitting near him was looking on in awe. After a few moments, Picasso finished his coffee and crumpled up the napkin to throw away as he left.

The woman stopped him.

“Wait,” she said.

“Can I have that napkin you were just drawing on? I’ll pay you for it.”

“Sure,” Picasso replied.

“Twenty thousand dollars.”

The woman’s head jolted back as if he had just flung a brick at her.

“What? It took you like two minutes to draw that.”

“No, ma’am,” Picasso said.

“It took me over 60 years to draw this.”

He stuffed the napkin in his pocket and walked out of the cafe.

Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something. If someone is better than you at something, then it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have. If someone is worse than you, it’s likely because he hasn’t been through all of the painful learning experiences you have.

If you think about a young child trying to learn to walk, that child will fall down and hurt itself hundreds of times. But at no point does that child ever stop and think, “Oh, I guess walking just isn’t for me. I’m not good at it.”

Avoiding failure is something we learn at some later point in life.

At some point, most of us reach a place where we’re afraid to fail, where we instinctively avoid failure and stick only to what is placed in front of us or only what we’re already good at.

This confines us and stifles us.

We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.

The chapter continues - but I like to stop here and re-read that last sentence…

We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.

Where do the fear of failure hold you back?

Little things like the fear of rejection - that stops you from making that call or knocking on that door?

The fear of judgement of others stops us from trying new things? Who are you really scared of failing in front of? Who made fun of you as a kid?

The fear of judgement of ourselves can keep us on the wrong path - because changing direction means admitting to ourselves we’ve been doing something wrong - perhaps for a long time.

Failure is a gift - it shows us what doesn’t work - it gives us just as much insight (if not more) then when things work. Failure is the only way we improve, it’s the only way we find our limits so that we can train ourselves to push beyond them.

If you are feeling fearful about something try this - play out the worst case scenario - the absolute worst case scenario, and work through what would really happen if it all went wrong.

What you’ll find is that the worst case scenario is never as catastrophic as it seems. Then reverse course and think about the best case scenario… what if everything went right?

What could that mean for you? Now let’s come back to reality - now that we have the extreme covered - what’s the most likely scenario? Now doesn’t that feel better.

Now that you have the tools to overcome fear - next you need to detach yourself from results that are outside of your control (and that’s most things) plan a good path, start walking - if it’s going well - great start running - hit a bump in the road (a failure) great adjust your path with your new knowledge of the world.

Win OR lose - you get better - and that’s the point.

The odds of an infant succeeding at anything are about zero - without the care of a parent almost none would make it through their first months - since your very first day on this planet you’ve been learning through failure - stop failing and you stop growing.

Fall in love with being a beginner again - it’s more fun anyways - mastery is boring - learning is new - and learning and failing are the same thing. You learn absolutely nothing from beginners luck or an easy streak.

I wish you many failures - not to experience the pain - but to spark the growth to the next amazing version of you!

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