The concept of “failure” is really all about perspective. If you think failure is possible, it becomes possible. If you think failure is impossible, then it’s impossible. I mean, we’re the ones who define failure, right? And the way I define failure is never trying. But if you do try and you miss your mark, you’re STILL successful because you went out on a limb and you learned something from the experience. You gained some lessons to take with you on the next journey.
That’s courage. That’s leadership. That’s personal growth. That’s progress. That is NOT failure.
But there are a few things we can do to minimize the feeling that we’ve failed somehow, even though intellectually we know it’s not true.
Set Your Parameters for Failure
For everything you do – every project, every relationship, every area of your life – ask yourself what constitutes success? Does it really have to be absolutely perfect? If it’s your career, do you fail when you don’t get promoted or do you succeed because you learned several new skills during the year? If it’s your business, are you a failure because you didn’t get any new clients this month or are you a success because you did learn how to set up a new marketing campaign for the next month? If it’s your love life, do you give up on relationships after one bad experience or do you move forward knowing that that experience will help you in future romances?
Frame Your Failure as Experience
Whenever something doesn’t go exactly the way I want it to, I immediately default to positive self-talk. Basically, I spin a positive story about how much I learned from the experience, even though on the surface, it looks like it blew up in my face. I constantly remind myself that the best way to learn is by doing. By trial and error. Lots of trial and lots of error. It’s what makes you wise. It’s what helps you grow and keep moving forward. And I know I don’t want to be stagnant.
Fail Fast and Fail Often
If you’re always pursuing new goals, pushing your boundaries, and testing your strengths and talents, you will rarely feel like a failure because hey, you’re “failing” all the time. You build up a tolerance. You build up the resilience to try new things and learn from them. And when you think about it, isn’t that actually the definition of success?
Honestly, there are very few times in my life where I feel like I’ve failed. Very few. I’ve made some mistakes and I wish I had done some things differently, but that is NOT failure.
That’s just real life.