Failure is Success: 4 New Perspectives

Head in Hands

Can you think of a time you failed miserably; a time when you really bombed?  We all can right?

Those times make us cringe.  Thinking about going through that again is not pleasant.  The crazy thing is those types of experiences, the experiences we label as “failure,” are the one and only mechanism for learning or achieving anything.

How many of you, when I asked the question above, had the first time you tried to tie a shoe come to mind?  Did any of you pick the first time you attempted to ride a bike?  How about the first time you tried to write an essay or play a musical instrument?

My guess is that none of you picked those types of experiences.

Most of you picked things like the time you tried to give the presentation to the committee, and it went poorly, or the sales call that should go in the “Worst Sales Calls” Hall of Fame.

What’s interesting is that those experiences are no different than the first time that you tried to ride a bike or tie your shoes.  They were things you had not done very many times if at all and when you attempted them, and so in that fledgling attempt you got less than spectacular results.

If we’re going to be a massive success, which all of us are going to be, then we have to get a new and healthy perspective on this thing we call “failure.”  We have to come to see failure as success.

Here’s four truths we as champions are going to embrace.

1.  Failure is Inevitable

There’s only one way to make sure that you don’t fail: do nothing.  Everything you want to accomplish lies on the other side of falling down.  Leadership guru John Maxwell, in his book, Failing Forward, put it this way: “He who makes no mistakes never makes anything.”

Think about it:  Name one thing you do really well that you didn’t fail at in the beginning.

Our problem is we forget that, and we reach a point where we convince ourselves that we should only do things we’re “good at.”

2.  Failure is not Personal

When we fail, we tend to personalize it.  We say things like, “I’m a failure.”  YOU are not a failure.  You just failed that time!  I use this analogy because it’s something we all relate to, but when you were learning to ride a bike, did falling down make you a failure as a bike rider?  Of course not.  That would be ridiculous!

You simply fell on your way to figuring it out.  Whatever you do, don’t personalize failure, but see it as part of the process.

3.  Failure is not Final

When we fall, that’s not the end of the story.  Failure is a single point on the line of our success.  Failure only becomes permanent when we stay down.  The moment we get up, we’re on to the next attempt.

Imagine your son tells you they have a dream to be a hockey player or your daughter tells you they want to be a figure skater.  You take them to the ice rink for the first time and the first time they get on the ice they fall.  Now imagine them laying on the ice, refusing to get up, and screaming, “I’ll never be good at this!  I’m a failure!”  What would you be thinking?  Well, that’s exactly what most of us are doing in life.  We go out of our comfort zone one time, and when we fall, we lay there crying, refusing to get up.  What would you be telling your child in that situation?  You need to say it to yourself.

Failure is never final.

4.  Failure is Feedback.

This is, for me, the biggest concept to embrace.  When you internalize this and really believe it, your life is never going to be the same.

Failure is not failure.  It is feedback.  We try something and get feedback on what went right and what went wrong.  We start to have the “ah-ha” moments that come with experiential learning.  Someone can tell you how to do something 100 times but none of those will give you the education that doing it once for yourself can provide.

Look for the lesson in every experience.  Instead of avoiding failure and delaying your attempts, speed everything up.  Fail faster!  The faster you try something and don’t succeed, the faster you have that feedback to improve for the next time.

From this day forward, I want you to take “failure” out of your vocabulary.  From now on, you receive feedback.  Failure is the new success.

So here’s your two-part takeaway.

1.  Fail fast

2.  Every time you don’t have success, say this,”Wow, that’s good feedback.  Let’s go again.”

The only way to succeed is to fail.  Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Company, said “Success can be achieved only through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents the 1% of your work that results from the 99% that is called failure.”

So failure IS success.  Start measuring yourself by how many times you fall down.  Because when you have a large number of times you’ve fallen down, you are going to be experiencing tons of success.  Get out there and fall off your bike!

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