I spent most of my life being scared of failure - being scared of bankruptcy, of being broke and of making bad relationship choices. Whenever I encountered what I thought was failure I’d get depression and immediately contemplate ways to end my life.
I’d look in the mirror and see only one thing: a failure.
I saw a failed entrepreneur, a blocked writer and a financial wreck. I deeply believed this and would try to cover it up by trying to appear intelligent and totally put together. Deep down I could feel was shame.
My whole existence was about how to hide my perceived failures which negatively impacted my finances and stopped me from seeking help.
So, I guess, you could say I’ve spent a few years getting acquainted with failure.
1. Failure is a matter of perception
Life is experiential and is meant to be approached as a moment to moment journey. Failure is a human concept.
We’re first taught about failure at school. When we grade kids, we teach them there’s such a thing as failure. But is it really failure is we fail at Math, but pass at relationship management?
According to the school system: it is!
This is only because there’s no way to grade relationship management even though the research shows that relationship management is emotional intelligence and is more important to career success than an A at Math.
As adults we look at our neighbors and we think, wow my neighbor did the exact same thing as me and is 30 years old and has a house, car and boat and this success guru says for me to be successful I should have a car, house, boat and jet, but I only have a car, so I must be failing.
The minute we start comparing our experiences to someone else’s experience or to what the experts say our experience should be, we start to encounter failure.
Without this comparison, your experience is just an experience and you wouldn't know any better.
2. What we call failure is actually learning
When I was busy crying and getting depressed about being a failure, something interesting was happening in my life: I was getting a practical lesson about the link between emotions, thoughts and behaviour.
Most importantly I was learning about getting rejected by bloggers and magazines as a writer and struggling to generate revenue as an entrepreneur.
Being rejected as a writer taught me persistence and forced me to learn different writing techniques and styles (I’m a poet and creative writer).
It also forced me to find different writing avenues by writing a non-fiction book. Something I honestly never thought I was capable of doing.
On the other hand, failing as an entrepreneur taught me what it is like to have NO money. It taught me about self-hatred, low self-esteem, fear and the importance of a business model. These lessons helped me explore new ways of thinking about abundance and revenue generation.
3. Failure is part of innovation
In life we know 3 things:
1. We know what we know
2. We know what we don’t know
3. We don’t know what we don’t know
The first 2 things we’ll most likely figure out as we go through life, but the things that are most critical to our success are the things we don’t know we don’t know, incidentally these are the things that also lead to failure.
When we start to understand a little bit of what we didn’t know we didn’t know, we can start to innovate.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Outliers argues that to become a master, you have to spend 10,000 hours practising something and from there greatness emerges.
When we keep trying and not getting the result we want, we start to master certain things during the process and start to become experts. When we get to that expert phase we can start to change things and innovate.
Change the way you see failure
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
When we change the way we see failure, we change the way we view success which empowers us to keep taking action until we get the result we want.
Please share your thoughts on failure in the comment section below.