We throw the word “failure” around easily. Failed marriages. Failed startups. Failure to uphold New Year’s resolutions. Millions of #fail memes crowding the internet.
The word hasn’t just lost its sting, it’s become an entirely misunderstood concept. The world’s most successful men know something about failure that other men don’t: it doesn’t exist.
If you write 10 drafts before publishing your novel, the first 9 aren’t failures. A brainstorming meeting that ends in more questions than answers isn’t a failure. Nothing is a failure if you learn something valuable from it.
To be successful, you must learn to reframe failure and halt bad habits in their tracks. Here are five unproductive patterns “failures” fall into, often without realising they’re sabotaging their own success.
Letting Fear Win
The surest way to fail is to talk yourself out of trying in the first place. Fear should never make decisions for you. Those 10 novel drafts only happen if you have the courage to put the first word on paper. When you allow fear to keep you paralyzed, you instigate a negative cycle it’s difficult to break out of: “I failed at this project. I’ll probably fail at the next one. So why bother trying?” You’ll rack up defeat on top of defeat, compounding the negative effects of each one, always playing it safe instead of playing for the win. It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel fear; it means you must learn to work through it when it appears.
Surrounding Yourself With Naysayers
Perhaps you’ve heard the adage that who you hang out with is who you become. In the case of success and failure, it’s absolutely true. Surround yourself with people who are positive, with people who lift you up and inspire you to take action, with people who make you believe that what you’re working towards is possible. If you surround yourself with people who accept failure, you’re much more likely to join their ranks.
Refusing To Seek Help
No man is the proverbial island. We celebrate the Elon Musks and the Richard Bransons and the Mark Cubans of the world as though they are solely responsible for their achievements. While there’s no doubt that they are bright and brilliant innovators, they could never have ascended to such high levels of success without the right team in place. First, admit that you need not and cannot go it alone. Second, determine exactly where your weak points are. Third, ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations
Speaking of smart… are your goals SMART? It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If your goals do not fit the framework, you’re at a disadvantage before you’ve even started working. Set reasonable expectations. Your app idea probably won’t be bought by Google for billions in the first year if it’s a side hustle you’re cranking out on weekends. Wherever you end up when you begin with unrealistic expectations is doomed to be considered failure.
Talking Without Doing
You can huff and puff all you want, but if you never actually blow, the house will remain standing (no tasty bacon snacks for you). Talking about something is not the same as taking action. Is it important to craft the initial idea? Yes. Is it important to plan and get organised? Yes. But there’s a point where it becomes procrastination, a ploy to avoid fear and never risk actual execution. Rubber must meet road eventually or your journey is over before it even began.