If you want to succeed in life, you need to learn how to fail.
I don’t recall anything I have ever done in which I have gotten it right on the first try. If we want to get good at something we have to learn and master it, but is learning anything other then failing over and over again?
I don’t think you can separate learning from from failing. They are the same thing. It is how we grow. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.
Most people are afraid of failure. That is why they never get anywhere. They prefer to play it safe. They prefer the cushy job where no one challenges them or pushes them for better results. It’s understandable.
I am not one of those people. I am however terrified of failing. I am terrified of taking these risks and maybe one day everything will collapse and all my business’s and relationships and money will disappear.
It scares me to death. But I can’t let that hold me back. I must be willing to fail.
Taking the Shot
There is a common misconception about the fear of failure. Most people will say “don’t be afraid to fail.”
That only tells half the story. I don’t believe people are afraid of failure. I believe we are afraid of failing in front of other people. We are afraid of being vulnerable.
I know many talented artists who love to paint but are afraid to show their art. I know amazing singers who refuse to walk in front of a mic. Public speaking is said to be the most intense fear of all humanity. These people are not afraid of the act or the work, they are simply afraid of showing it to other people.
Fun Fact: People Fear Public Speaking More Than They Fear Death
So keeping this in mind, you can learn how to strengthen your resolve.
I am not a therapist or a motivational speaker. I don’t have many words of encouragement or an inspirational montage but I believe I can help people with this fear. It is simple. Repeat after me.
“It’s not that big of a deal.”
Those words changed my life. I have come to realize that people don’t care about my successes and failures that much. Even if someone does care about what I am doing to the point where they are willing to make a remark or a negative comment, the truth is that it’s just not a big deal.
Every time I publish an article, the fear consumes me. I know people will read this. People that I respect and people that I want to respect me. What will they think of my words? Will they laugh? Will they email it to their friends and make fun of me?
Maybe they will, but even if they do, it’s not that big of a deal.
Don’t let this fear of vulnerability paralyze you from taking the shot. Wayne Gretzky says it best – “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
If you think you can find the resolve to take that shot, then keep reading.
The Ebb and Flow of Failure and Success
Failure is not the end. It’s not even the beginning, it’s simply part of the process.
I can not tell you how many times I fuck up. Every day. I am the clumsiest businessman I know. My employees poke fun at me and it’s gotten to the point where I laugh at the jokes and accept them as true. I mess up constantly, but I continue to succeed because I understand that failure is not the end.
Success and failure both come and go. It’s much like a wave. Some days you’re ahead and some days you’re behind. As long as you continue to make progress then you are doing better than 90% of the population.
I’ll show you an example.
I recently spent thousands of dollars and months out of my life redesigning one of my websites. It wasn’t until the entire job was finished that I realized I had made a huge mistake. I have since started all over.
It was a complete failure. I spent more than $4000 redesigning and developing that site. It is without a doubt the most costly mistake I have ever made in my online business career. However, at the end of the day, it is a great learning experience.
I was fighting the current. I was trying to force an idea that didn’t fit and I paid the price.
The point is that this is not the end. I will continue to work on that site until I get it right. It will be a huge success, I have no doubt about it. If I hadn’t fallen on my face so hard, I may not have realized exactly what it was that I wanted.
Failure is almost always a blessing. Remember what I said before. You can not separate failure from learning. They are the same thing. I am better off because of it.
Learning to Embrace Your Fuck Ups
Admitting your faults is the first step to fixing them. Here is a list of things I suck at…
- I am not the best communicator.
- When I meet people face to face, I am generally anxious and I second guess almost everything I say.
- I am way too emotional. I run my life off of emotional fuel.
- I have a hard time staying on task. I try very hard to correct this by reminding myself to be discipline and removing distractions, but it is something I will always have to work on.
It is not easy.
We must all learn to admit when we are wrong, to admit to other people where we fell short and what we could have done better. It is the worst. I will continue to hate every second of analyzing my failures and talking about them in front of my peers.
It just has to happen, because it makes me stronger.
Having the strength to embrace your failures is giving yourself a sheet of armor. Every time you learn a new lesson or learn from a new experience, you are thickening your skin. Nothing can strengthen your resolve like giving yourself an honest evaluation.
It is very easy for all of us to avoid looking at ourselves in the mirror. The reality is that the truth is always there for us, waiting to be looked at. We always know in our hearts if we did our best, if we were honest and if we put our best foot forward.
Nothing Lasts Forever
I seem to mention my father a lot in these personal articles. I hear his voice and his wisdom when I am writing. In this case, the lesson that comes to mind is…
“Listen here son. Nothing last forever.”
This is true for the good and bad. The good times always seem to go too fast and the bad times always drag on. But after every failure, while the pain of defeat and self-doubt and shame is soaking in deep, always remember that it will not last forever.
Push through that pain of failure. Keep waking up in the morning and getting dressed. Keep moving forward. Embrace that failure and feel it in your core. Eventually, the pain will subside and the failure will be another coat in your armor.
Thank you for this article. I appreciate the openness as it has helped me gain clarity on a recent business fuck up of my own.
Tim Stodz says
You’re welcome my friend. Keep up the good work.