Back in the days of my schooling everything seemed to be about passing or failing; there was no grey area and you were either ‘succeeding’ or not.
I believe that it is this understanding of failure that fills people with fear of doing the things they want to. There is a constant worry about what other people will think and how, by failing, it will confirm they are not able or destined for success.
If I had taken that belief forward forever I would not be doing what I love now. But I did carry it for many years and it affected my attitude to the world around me. So how can we redefine the meaning of the word ‘fail’ in order to get out of the rut of not reaching our full potential?
When something doesn’t go according to plan instead of thinking ‘I’ve failed’ think what can I learn from the experience? What worked and what didn’t? How can I refine what I did to make it better?
Here are some great examples of people who never allowed ‘failure’ to get in the way:
- Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. He was subsequently defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up.”
- Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
- Henry Ford failed twice in business before he finally went on to build the Ford Motor Company; and became one of the richest men in the world. He has this to say about his business failures: “Failure is just a resting place. It is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
- J. K. Rowling was turned down several times by publishers. Instead of being deterred; she went on to become a billionaire author!
- Richard Branson’s first business, a student magazine, failed despite initial interest. He also shut down some of his businesses just to stay afloat. And now? He has emerged stronger and more successful!
So before you give up on your dreams, before you cave in to the fear of failure, remember that ‘fail’ is merely part of the success journey. Be persistent, be open to learning, ask for help, never stop dreaming and remember these great quotes:
Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward…. Thomas Edison
“Success is a poor teacher. We learn the most about ourselves when we fail, so don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is part of the process of success. You cannot have success without failure.” Robert Kiyosaki
“Sometimes by losing a battle, you will find a new way to win the war.” – Donald Trump
“I have had all the disadvantages required for success.” – Larry Ellison