I recently heard a participant at a leadership conference say, “If you are successful all of the time, you are really failing.”
I believe she meant we are failing because we aren’t taking risks. Risks are scary because there's a possibility we won't succeed. And who doesn’t want to be successful? We put protection around ourselves to keep us from that kind of hurt and vulnerability. But developing a spirit of courage doesn’t happen without failure.
My biggest learning experiences have been from failed risks rather than easy success. And let me tell you, there’s been plenty of pick-myself-off-the-ground failures. I’m talking major rejections, broken relationships, missed opportunities, and more. But with each realization about what not to do, I’m making adjustments and gaining wisdom about what might work!
Looking at life as one big experiment can help ease the pain of each tumble we take. I think of how Alice dreamed up a new world for herself in Wonderland but decided she didn’t like it as much as she thought she would. Sure she felt disappointed at first, but it transformed her perspective toward reality. And despite her failed imaginary world, I bet she didn't stop dreaming.
If you need some encouragement to overcome your fear of failure, try dipping your toes in the water and do these three hard things:
1. Don’t walk away—resolve.
It’s really easy to ignore problems or to dissolve relationships when conflicts arise, but taking the extra step toward resolve allows room for inner peace and the development of problem-solving skills that are vital to success.
2. Stop blaming.
Oh, blaming…how easy you are to do. Blaming allows us to jump out of the way while we throw someone or something else under the bus. It also is a practice that starts to become a habit—one that ultimately hurts us because we are unable to grow when we can’t admit our failures. Breaking a habit is hard, but the reward of owning up to our weaknesses and our faults is much greater than the short-lived “blame game” we play to protect our reputation.
3. Jump in!
I can tell you from experience, the more failure that comes my way, the easier it gets. When you think about what the worst possible scenario could be when you take a risk, it’s usually not anything you can’t eventually overcome. Sure I said at the beginning of this list to dip your toes in the water, but instead, I challenge you to jump in with both feet! Knowing failure is possible, pick one hard thing to tackle. If you don't succeed, take some time to figure out what you can learn, and explore the feeling of growth rather than the feeling of failure.
Those of you searching for success: remember, you can do hard things!