Today I want to talk about failure because it is something that many people fear. Let’s first begin by defining what failure is.
The online Oxford Dictionary defines failure as “lack of success.” Based on this definition it would only be logical to define success as a lack of failure, but we all know that is not the definition for success, and it is actually quite the opposite as many well known successful people have experienced failing, and in some cases they have experienced it many times. The online Oxford Dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”
These definitions are useful in serving as a guide, but what is more useful is for you to define for yourself what is failure and what is success. So what is your definition of failure? Are you afraid to fail? Have you failed before? Do you judge failing as something bad? Do you avoid failing at all cost? Do you know anyone who has never failed before?
What is your definition of success? What does success mean to you? How do you know that you are successful or how would you know when you are successful? Do you judge one as being bad (failure) and the other one as being good (success)? If so why or why not?
Why would some people be afraid to fail while others have learned to be okay with it? It is because of how we judge failure and what our perception of it is.
We have been conditioned to judge failing as bad and succeeding as good. Nonetheless as mentioned already some of the most successful people in the world have been people who have experienced failure. The difference is that they have not given up, they have believed in their dream and vision, and they have kept on going. They have also changed their perception on what failure is.
For example I remember reading in my 20s about Michael Jordan’s perception of failure. I am paraphrasing of course as this is coming from my memory, but I remember him saying something like he failed many times before he succeeded, and that every time he failed it just meant that he was getting closer to succeeding.
Then he gave an example of a car that was not working and trying to find the part that they needed for it to work. He said something in regards to every time they found the wrong car piece it just meant that they were getting closer to finding the car piece that worked.
Michael Jordan is just one example, but I am sure you have heard of many more people like Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, … and Oprah Winfrey just to name a few. As a matter of fact I am one of those people who have failed as well. My first failure was failing first grade as a result of not doing my homework, and as an adult I lost track of the many times I have failed especially when it comes to dieting.
Let’s explore some of the reasons why you might be afraid of failing:
1. You might have been conditioned to see failure as bad.
2. You might identify failing with being a failure, and you might fear being judged as a failure.
3. You might base your worth or value on whether you fail or succeed. For example, you might think that if you fail you are not good enough and if you succeed you are.
Some of these reasons might be unconscious, meaning that you might not even consciously be aware that you are afraid of failing. However just look at your life and take a look at all the many things you might have not even tried for fear of failing. Perhaps you have remained in your “comfort” zone for fear that if you got out of it, you might not make it.
Here are some tips to work with your fear of failure:
1. Change your perception of what failure is. Failing is part of life. Failing is a sign that you are getting out of your comfort zone and no longer willing to play small. Failing simply means that you might have to explore another direction, examine something else, reconsider something, or why not maybe you can learn something very important as a result of your so called failure. As Michael Jordan suggested, “failing can simply mean that you are moving closer to your goal.”
2. Who you are, your worth, your value has nothing to do with whether you fail or succeed. There are plenty of successful people that are unsuccessful because of how empty they feel inside, and there are plenty of people who have failed that are successful because they have not allowed themselves to be define by their failures.
3. Find the gift in failure. Failure can teach us to not give up, to keep on going, it can help us to get back in touch with our faith, and with our determination. Failure can help us to re-discover how strong we actually are; it can help us get in touch with our core by examining what is it that we really want, that we really desire, that we really aspire. Failure can teach us to be more compassionate and accepting of ourselves and others.
Conclusion: Failing is a part of life and the only way in which you can avoid it is by staying in what I call your uncomfortable “comfort” zone, hide away from the world, and do nothing. However if you were to do that instead of going after your dreams, wouldn’t that in itself be the biggest failure of all?
If you would like to begin to move forward with your life and not allowed neither your fear of failure or success determine the direction of your life apply today for a 30 minute Free Consultation.