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I never lose. I either win or learn.
Nelson Mandela’s quote is dead on and it’s pretty much the way every successful person looks at life.
Think about this.
What does failure mean to you?
“Failure” is a such an emotionally loaded word, isn’t it?
What are the emotions you feel when you “fail?”
When you try to do something and aren’t able to complete it, do you feel like … oh-crapola! I suck at this?
Do you feel embarrassed, humiliated, and wonder who do you think you are anyway?
Does the fear of failure stop you from even trying something new?
We’re so hard-wired to think that failure is a personal insult that just the possibility of failure keeps us frozen in our tracks.
How do you think other people see you when you fail?
Do you immediately become the middle school girl who got snubbed by Diva Debbie because you didn’t know how to french braid your hair? Does it bother you … a LOT, to think that people around you will judge you for failing?
What does failure mean to successful people?
The more successful and daring you are, the more you are on intimate terms with failure. Why is it that the captains of industry and visionaries in science seem to have triumphed over failures that would have the rest of us pulling the blankets over our heads?
Successful people recognize that it’s the task that failed, not them.
To successful people, failure has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the process. A test failed. An approach failed. A poorly defined goal failed. They see failure as an opportunity because without trying and inevitable failures, they can’t succeed. Literally, failure is the first step to success.
Successful people won’t allow themselves to be defined by failure.
Successful people encounter failure all the time. So much so that they’re able to see that failure is part of the creative process. When you don’t try, you can’t fail. When you’re daring, like most people who accomplish great things in their lives, you are going to fail. A lot.
Thomas Edison is famous for his answer to someone asking about the many times he failed in trying to create the lightbulb. “I have not failed.” he said, “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Michael Jordan, undisputedly one of basketball’s greats, was cut from his high school team.
J.K.Rowling was a divorced mother, living on welfare, going to school and struggling to write a novel in her spare time before she became a household name with her Harry Potter books. Her manuscript was rejected 12 times and she was told by one agent “not to quit her day job.”
Successful people don’t waste time being upset about failure.
Remember that successful people know that failure isn’t about them. It’s about the process and it requires tweaking the process, not abandoning it.
They also don’t waste time over the failures. They keep their eye on the goal, make the adjustments they need and move on!
They understand that failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
Successful people see every failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Engineers learn this early.
Testing is a part of getting the desired results in any science experiment. And no one in the history of science ever expects to get the results they want the first time out.
Test #1? Nope. Tweak, tweak.
Test #2. Uh-huh. Let’s try again.
And they take copious notes along the way. What change gave a better result? What created a catastrophic effect?
It’s not just an expectation that failure is going to happen.
It’s a challenge!
Successful people see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. But they also see it as a kind of game in which they’re Player One and success is about overcoming all the obstacles and winning the challenge.
How can you train yourself to start seeing failure as an opportunity?
Even if you aren’t going to go out and found the new Apple computers or write the biggest blockbuster book series of the decade, you can still learn to think like a successful person.
Begin by redefining what success means.
Understand that there are two possible outcomes to everything you do.
- It works.
- It doesn’t work.
There is no failure. There’s just a result. Expect that sometimes things will work and sometimes they won’t.
Cultivate detachment from the process.
That’s what everything is. A process. If your goal is to write a book, you already know that sometimes the plot will have to change to make it better. If your goal is to move to Hawaii, you already know that you’ll have to sell your current home, buy a new one there, and figure out how to get your belonging over. Some things are bound to fall apart along the way.
All processes have setbacks. Success is in conquering them one by one.
Separate failures from yourself as a person.
Learn from the successful people in the world.
Don’t let others make you feel like a failure when something doesn’t work out. But much more importantly, don’t let yourself buy into the idea that you’re a failure when things go wrong!
It will paralyze you. It will make you doubt your ability to accomplish the thing you want most in life.
Successful people don’t give up.
Don’t you either!
Don’t forget to download The 31-Day Intentional Mindset Workbook, free when you join the Plotting A New Course community.