Do you go out of your way to avoid of disappointment and letdown in your business and home life? Do you ever back away from projects that you think are risky and do not guarantee success? Do you steer clear of situations where you feel like a fish out of water because you don’t enjoy the feeling of not being in control? Do you see people that mess up or fail in something as being failures in life?
If the answer to any of the above is yes then I would encourage you to reconsider the way you look at success.
Richard Branson has constantly taken risks both in is private life and business many of his businesses have been less than successful, yet he is quire rightly seen as an icon in the business world. Donald Trump declared business bankruptcy in the early 90’s and almost had to declare personal bankruptcy the following year but he does ok for himself. Not many people either side of the Atlantic would really think of either Branson or Trump as failures yet they have failed. The most effective and successful people in life are risk takers and do you know why that is?
They know that the more you fail the more you learn, that the more you learn the more you succeed and therefore paradoxically the more you fail the more you succeed.
As humans we learn much more quickly by failing at things and noticing what doesn’t work. As babies we learn to walk by putting one foot in front of the other and just trying it out. When we fall over we do not think ‘huh, I guess I’ve not got this walking thing right at all, I guess I’ll stick to crawling’ No, we get back up and try again, we have not learned to be embarrassed by failure at that age so we tenaciously keep going. Not only that, but we are encouraged by our parents when we do well and just as pertinently not rebuked for falling over.
Then something strange starts to happen. As we go through the school years suddenly it becomes apparent that failing is no longer quite such acceptable option. Sports teams are pushed hard to succeed by coaches, mom and dad want to see straight A’s on that report card, teachers use red pen to highlight your errors and the smallest indiscretion can result in raucous laughter and finger-pointing by peers.
So bit-by-bit we withdraw into our shell and start to develop the fear of failure that is so prevalent in our society. We are actually taught this by parents, teachers, peers, family members etc, it wasn’t hard wired in before birth. Of course nobody really means to do this, most of the advice and admonishments are meant well but the damage is done nevertheless.
To be really successful in life we need to embrace failure and not fear it. We need to approach projects with an attitude that says ‘I’ll do my best and if that doesn’t work, no problem I’ll try a something new’ We are human beings we mess up, but if we can laugh at and learn from our mistakes we remove the need to worry about failure as well as making it less likely to happen anyway.