Failure- How to Do It Well
The title says it all; we spend so much time trying to avoid failure, we forget that success is intricately tied to the way we fail. If our mistakes become obstacles, we are failing at failing. Yet if we learn to associate success with failure, we win no matter what the outcome. Failure becomes just another stepping stone to success.
Great Leaders Failed A LOT
Since history tends to highlight great achievements, it's easy to forget that some of our most well-known leaders, authors, and entrepreneurs did a lot of failing before they hit it big. Let's look at a couple...
The Wright Brothers
Can you believe he was fired from a newspaper job because he lacked imagination?! This guy went broke more than once before the Disney empire was born. His name is on the front of amusement parks, merchandise, movies, and Disney even owns ABC! All from a man who went bankrupt from a failed business start up.
His first manuscript was rejected 30 times. If the king of suspenseful fiction can be rejected over and over before hitting it big, why do you think you won’t have your fair share of defeat?
This man worked tirelessly to abolish the slave trade in Britian. It took him twenty years to get a bill passed in Parliament. How many of us would continue with a project that was rejected for two decades? That is impressive and this man changed a lot of lives as a result.
The Wright Brothers
They failed numerous times before successfully getting a glider off the ground. Talk about some big risk; trying to get a machine in the air is life threatening and a mistake was costly. They even kept careful track of their failures so they could learn from them.
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
Over 140 publishers rejected these two authors before someone took a chance on their book. It was Chicken Soup for the Soul and has sold millions of copies all over the world. Don’t you wish you were them?
One of the greatest and memorable presidents of this country had significant experience with failure. He was elected president in 1860 and do you want to know what happened before then? He suffered at least ten major political failures. Not just any failure, the type of failure that would seemingly hurt someone trying to run for president. The man had a nervous breakdown! This guy was defeated over and over again and then took the Oval Office. That is remarkable! It is a great story of hope for all of us who are getting really good at failure and defeat.
If only we could all be so cute when we're stuck
What Do All These People Have Common?
- They took big risks
You will not make any progress if you keep life in the "safe" zone. Big success is produced from big risk. There are all kinds of risks in life; physical (rock climbing), emotional (being vulnerable with someone), mental (applying for a school that's a long shot), spiritual (having faith in God), and financial (starting up that business).
- They had a goal
It didn’t matter if the world thought them incapable and unworthy for the task, the goal was set in front of them always. In many cases, these people failed in the sector they were working in. It's not like a swimmer who failed at sewing; it's like a swimmer who gets kicked off the swim team!
- They didn’t give up
Persistence is the key to success. It helps to have intelligence, skill, and talent- but without persistence, you will not get anywhere. If one angle doesn’t work, try another, then another. Don’t let go just because you hit a few bumps along the way.
- They enjoyed the process (well that may be a little generous!)
If you are too focused on the end result, you’ll forget to enjoy the process. People who can take in life lessons along the way ultimately get to their destination faster. There’s a ton of learning to be had in mistakes. Don’t waste them.
Fear Zaps Creativity
People who are afraid to fail will inevitably end up failing more. When you are afraid, the parts of your brain that inspire creativity, spontaneity, and hope are suppressed. Think about the difference between two people about to jump off a cliff. One person is terrified to jump- the other one knows there is a safety net and doesn't have a care in the world. The person who is free will jump harder than the one who is terrified. Failure is not going to kill you, I promise.
Silence the Critic
As with any new endeavor, critics usually abound. But the truth is, nothing new would ever flourish if critics ran the world. Is there a critic on your shoulder? My guess is the biggest critic in your life is you. Get rid of him (or her). Nothing will zap your creativity faster than someone bent on making you feel horrible for not getting it right the first time. The truth is,
"If you don't quit, you win."
- Julie DeNeen
Taking a risk...
- 100 Day Writing Challenge
A wanna-be writer embarks on an ambitious challenge to do the number one thing that everyone says writers should do- write. The challenge? Half a million words in 100 days.