I’ve taken a lot of action in the past month in my business, but it was a rough one mentally.
I put out a Facebook ad that didn’t perform the way I thought it would. I then agreed to host a live workshop that didn’t fill seats (ouch!)
I admit, I spent a couple of weeks in a dazed state trying to figure out where I went wrong on each particular project. I put so much work in to this – how did I fail? Was it the copy? Was it timing? Did we not direct the ad to a large enough audience? Or maybe it was the wrong audience?
After going through a post-mortem and assessing what could be done better next time, an assessment of my own personal failure then started to creep in…Why can’t I get the messaging right? Why do I keep ending up down a rabbit hole on certain things? Am I really cut out to do this? What if this type of thing keeps happening? And on and on…
My coach, Brooke Castillo, then offered me a simple assignment.
She wants me to plan 25 epic fails per quarter.
I was initially like, “I’m sorry, what? Isn’t that counterintuitive? I don’t know about you, but I’m going for success here, not failure!”
“Get comfortable with failure. Most people never achieve their goals because they’re afraid to fail. Success is acquired through failure and the willingness to fail. If you want success, double your rate of failure.”
I let that sink in.
She wasn’t talking about sitting around and by default, failing. Nor was she talking about repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (because we all know that’s insanity). She was talking about showing up and taking so much massive action that on my path to making stuff stick, some stuff just wasn’t going to work. It was a numbers game and a testament to whether or not I was committed to consistently and powerfully showing up.
And…. the overachiever that I am was suddenly so proud that I already had two failures under my belt. 2 down, 23 to go! Almost instantly, I was able to let go of my slump and could stand tall in the fact that, “yeah, I’m going to rock this assignment out!”
It reinforced to me that I have to get comfortable with failure. You see, up until this point, I wasn’t overly familiar with that feeling, because I’d grown comfortable with things as they are. As soon as I made the decision to play full out, that’s when the feelings of failure started to surface.
I realized that it’s totally fine to experience the feeling of failure, give it a nod and acknowledge it for what it is and then keep on my merry way to playing full out.
Failure is also an opportunity to learn. If you’re not willing to test some stuff out and challenge your assumptions, it’s easy to become blasé and that can limit your growth.
Being OK with allowing yourself to fail gives you an edge because it gives you the opportunity to get creative.
Can you imagine if, when you were a toddler, as you were learning to walk, you said to yourself, “ya know, this walking thing is hard; I keep falling over. Look at that kid over there walking… I guess he has certain skills or resources that I simply don’t have. I think I’m just going to stick to crawling!” Well… we know that didn’t happen because you’re now walking!
But for some reason, we think that mentality is OK in business – we stumble and fall and we then compare ourselves to others and justify the reasons why they’re so capable and we’re not.
When it all comes down to it, when you’re growing your business, if you’re not failing, chances are, you’re not succeeding either.
- Bill Gates got suspended from school, failed at his first company and then dropped out of Harvard. I think it’s safe to say that he went on to succeed with at least one thing.
- Denzel Washington was at a 1.8 GPA in school. His latest movie just aired at the same theatre where he failed his first audition.
- Walt Disney was fired from one of his first jobs because he lacked imagination (this always makes me chuckle), started a company and then bankrupted it before he succeeded at the empire that exists today.
So, keep this in mind next time you’re kicking yourself over a failure…
If you’re taking huge amounts of action in your business, some stuff simply won’t work. You’ll fail. You’ll try again. You’ll fail. You’ll try again. Ultimately though, the more you try, the better your chances are at success. It really is just a numbers game. If you keep playing full out and get comfortable with failure, when everyone has quit because they were too scared to fail, you can also get comfortable with the idea that you’re well on your way to success.