As babies and toddlers, we embrace failure. We have to in order to grow up. Think about it. Most of us take our first steps somewhere between nine and 12 months of age, but we don’t technically start walking until a few months later. What happens in between those first few steps and our first official stumble across the living room floor? We fall down, we bang our heads on sharp objects, and then we get back up and try again.
Imagine what you could achieve if you were able to push through your adult fears and embrace failure like your former self. What follows are a few considerations to help you do just that.
Accept that failure is inevitable in the journey
Unless, of course, you’re happy repeating the same safe actions over and over again – and where’s the growth in that (let alone fun)?
If you want to live a full and expansive life, you need to be willing to explore what’s possible. Exploration means travelling through unfamiliar territory, where outcomes are uncertain and only one thing can be counted on: you’ll win some, you’ll lose some. Adjust your expectations accordingly to ensure a softer landing when you fail, because you will.
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Failure is a reflection of your willingness to grow
In episode four of The Life Coach School podcast, master certified life and weight coach Brooke Castillo shares Google’s definition of failure as follows: the omission of expected or required action. This means it isn’t a reflection of you as a person but rather a reflection of the actions you’ve taken. In other words, your actions are at fault, not you, so stop being so hard on yourself.
When your actions fail to achieve your desired results, don’t bury yourself under the covers. Get back up like you did when you were a toddler, dust yourself off, and try a different approach. Remember, it’s nothing personal.
Embrace failure as a learning opportunity
Failure is our greatest teacher. Every time we learn what not to do, we get that much closer to figuring out the correct course of action. Instead of recoiling in shame or frustration when something doesn’t work out as you’d hoped, look for the lesson instead.
What’s more, congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made because each and every time you embrace failure, you take another step towards success.
Let go of perfectionism
Do you wear perfectionism like a badge of honour? If so, chances are it’s standing in the way of your personal and professional fulfilment.
While having high standards isn’t a bad thing, insisting on a perfect outcome from every endeavour you undertake narrows the playing field. You’re so desperate to get it right every time that if you can’t guarantee a win, you refuse to throw yourself into the game. Think of all those growth opportunities you’re missing.
Look to friends and family members for support
In fact, don’t just look; enquire. Ask them to share the failures that preceded the successes you so admire, and how they overcame those failures even when they felt like giving up – because you can bet that at one point they did.
We all feel like giving up at times. It’s not the feeling that matters though. What determines the outcome is the action we take notwithstanding that feeling.
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Keep in mind that some of yesterday’s greatest losers are today’s greatest winners
Take Richard Branson, for example. Virgin Cola, Virgin Cars, Virgin Publishing, Virgin Clothing and Virgin Brides are just a few of his failed business ventures. However, those failures didn’t hold him back from becoming the business magnate he is today – with a current net worth of $4.2 billion, no less.
His thoughts on the subject: “I suppose the secret to bouncing back is not only to be unafraid of failures but to use them as motivational and learning tools. … There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you don’t make the same ones over and over again.”
And then there’s photographer Chase Jarvis whose business lesson cost him $8 billion when Instagram was purchased by Facebook despite his photo-sharing app having been the first to hit the market. A hard lesson, indeed, but even he licked his wounds and went on to become the founder of Creative Live.
Experiencing failure is inevitable. Allowing it to defeat you, however, is optional. Remember, you can just as easily choose to let failure empower you. The question is, will you?
Publishers Notes: Vivienne Singer, is a Toronto-based life coach and personal growth writer. An optimist by choice (not by nature), she promotes self-awareness and empowers others to live with greater confidence, authenticity and joy.