If you look closely at the life patterns of highly successful individuals, you will find a common, recurring theme. Whether you study the lives of those who have achieved major milestones in business, in their career or finances, or physically and within a certain industry such as the world of fitness, these superstars may come from a wide variety of backgrounds, ethnicities and income levels, but regardless of origin, you will discover that they have all, to one degree or another, experienced something powerful in their lives that has aided in their catapult to the top of the food chain. That something is Failure.
Sounds a little crazy right? If these people are so successful, it should mean that they’ve lived a charmed life, always made good choices and never had to experience the pain of falling flat on their face, losing a battle that they intensely wanted to win, or made down-right bad decisions that led to drawbacks financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually or in personal relationships? Right?
On the contrary! Successful people are usually the ones who at one point or another have failed miserably, have taken giant leaps of faith only to find their wings are not yet fastened securely and they come crashing to the ground. In the world of finance, the greatest successes are typically those who have at one point been bankrupt or had business failures. In career, many who have achieved the highest levels of success in any industry have had multiple doors slammed in their faces, heard the word “No” repeatedly and been rejected on many occasions. In the world of fitness, many of the top faces and leading names that you see have experienced failure on different levels. Perhaps they were at one point failing in the area of physical healthy, countless top models today have stories of at one point being overweight, unhealthy and unhappy in their lives. Or perhaps they have competed and didn’t place where they wanted to, or were denied or rejected an opportunity that they truly wanted.
What is it about failure that leads these people to even greater achievement? If this is a common theme in the successful, how come every person who has failed in their life, isn’t reaching these higher echelons of success?
The power of failure is all in the way that you view it, and where you choose to put your focus in the aftermath of a perceived failure.
The people who look at themselves, something in their life, or the outcome of a certain event as a failure, and process that information as meaning that they are useless, not good enough, or not competent enough to pursue their goal, are the ones who are going to quit moving forward, curl up in a little ball of fear and stop making progress towards their goals. These are the people who will remain status quo or less, they will stick with pathways that they feel are safe and have low risk of feeling that pain of failure again, these are people that will never attain a high level of success.
On the other hand, there is a different way that failure can be viewed. A powerful and productive perspective that can get you so fired up, so determined, that you become unstoppable! Failure is nothing more than feedback, information that you can use to make better or different choices in the future. With every failure you have the opportunity to learn and grow. You have a chance to make improvements, change your course of action, and try again or take an alternate route, and you now have the advantage of a higher level of knowledge and a higher level of experience. The next time you make a choice or take a chance in any facet of your life, you are going to have a higher chance of succeeding with that failure under your belt.
Your personal definition of failure is important too, this is something you need to be clear about. If you interpret minor setbacks or obstacles (or in the world of fitness for example, not placing exactly where you want to in a competition) as an epic failure, then you are setting yourself up for a world of unnecessary high levels of pain and upset. Those who end up being ultimately successful at aspects in their lives are able to understand levels of failure and assign an appropriate level of importance to them. Looking at every little bump in the road as a major disaster isn’t going to be productive in the long run, but rather lead to feelings of resentment, guilt, inadequacy and depression. These are negative emotions that aren’t going to fuel you in the right direction.
When you have, what you consider in your mind, failed at something, what are some of the emotions that you feel? Identifying these emotions is one way that you can recognize the opportunity for growth and improvement. Here are a couple of the most common.
First is disappointment. It’s of course a natural human response to failure. But it is something you must be careful with. You can use disappointment in a negative way and decide that you should just not go after your goal any longer, OR you can change your perspective. Are there any positives that you took away from the situation? Did you learn anything from the situation that will allow you to improve or find an alternate route to the goal? Does the failure mean that a door is entirely closed or if you look around could there be a new window that has opened up?
Another common emotion is frustration. This is actually a great emotion to have. When you feel frustrated, that means that you feel that you should have or could have achieved a goal, it bothers you that you didn’t. This powerful emotion can lead you to going back to the drawing board, convinced that you CAN achieve what you want, and develop a new strategy for getting where you ultimately want to be.
Don’t play the blame game. When you have failed at something, even if you may have every right to point the finger of blame on a person or situation, this isn’t going to lead to productivity, even if in your mind it is completely the truth of the situation. And guess what, you may be 100% right! But placing blame on anyone or anything else for failure is ultimately giving the power of the situation and the future of your success, to the person or event. To be the most successful, you don’t want to give that power away, YOU want to have that power at all times, because ultimately it is YOU who are going to be the reason you are a success.
Fear of failure is paralyzing. It is the one thing that will keep you grounded exactly where you are in life. It can prevent you from ever taking major strides towards goals and dreams that you wish you could attain.
If you want something in life, you have to overcome your fear of failure and go for it. Whether your goal is to own your own business, be a multi millionaire, find an amazing relationship, step on stage for your first time or become a top fitness athlete, if you are afraid to take the action necessary to get to your goals, and if you’re afraid that at some point you are going to be rejected or fail or make a bad decision, then the one thing I can promise is that you will never get where you want to be! Chances are that you ARE going to “fail” at something, you are going to be disappointed or frustrated, you may very well be rejected on certain occasions, and there is very high likelihood that you will make stupid mistakes throughout your journey. But you know what? That is ok! You want to make mistakes and you want to fail!
I do consider myself a successful person, that doesn’t mean I’m at the ultimate level of success that I ultimately want to be, but for the place in life that I’m currently at, I am happy with many of the things I’ve achieved on multiple levels of life, including physical, mental, spiritual, financial and relationship wise. I’m such a strong believer in the power of failure and it is because I’ve personally failed in every single one of these areas that I now feel successful in, at one point or another. I failed physically when I let myself get 40 pounds overweight in my mid twenties, I let the pain of that failure fuel me to want to compete. I’ve had multiple failed relationships, but discovered more about myself through each one and ultimately that has allowed me to find a relationship with my husband that surpasses even what my greatest expectations could have been. I’ve failed in business…miserably… I started a company, invested loads of money and my families money only to have the entire thing crash and burn. Miserable is actually not even a strong enough word to describe that failure. But I learned so much from all the mistakes that were made, that it prepared me to make much wiser choices in my business now! When it comes to the world of competition, I’ve had some great success for sure, but that didn’t come without “failure” too. I’ve lost close competitions and have even been on stages where I went completely unnoticed. I definitely felt the sting of defeat, and the pain of frustration, but ultimately, decided to view every experience as a positive, as a stepping stone and as an opportunity for growth towards doing better the next time or finding something that was a better fit for my ultimate personal goals. I know I’m not done learning, and I know I’m going to make more mistakes and fail many more times in areas of life. But I’m not afraid, I’m excited, because it means getting stronger and better and ultimately it will mean fulfilling the vision of success that I have for myself. That’s pretty exciting if you ask me!
To be the most powerful human being you can be, the most successful, the most fulfilled, I encourage you to FAIL FEARLESSLY. Learn from every opportunity and use all of the knowledge and feedback you get to form yourself into the greatest success you can possibly be.