One of the most critical things we can do to elevate our mindset is to reframe the way we view failure. What I’ve found is that it’s not failure people fear, it’s what they make it mean. Such as, I’m not good enough, I’ll be judged, what if they reject me..etc. So THE most important thing you can shift around failure is to recognize that says zip, nada, I mean NOTHING about who you are as a person. Not sold? Keep reading.
For many years I didn’t just fear failure, I identified as one. When I failed (and I did - often and majorly) I made it mean I would never succeed, that I wasn’t good enough, and that I was a f’up. Over and over again I fell short of my family’s unrealistic expectations and my own self-induced perfectionism. Because of these false beliefs that I attached to failure, I would get paralyzed from taking action. I believed more in my track record of falling short and put more weight on the fear of what other people thought of me than my own potential. This kept me stuck on the stuck on the sidelines of my life, with big dreams in my heart, and at best playing small. I truly believed my next step would just be another misstep, so I often thought to myself why even try.
Today, I want you to put aside the BS stories you’ve come to believe about what failure means. I want to help you to see the truth of what failure is, and better yet how the depth of your failures equal the height of your success.
“Winning comes in many different forms. Sometimes winning comes in learning how to accept defeat without being defeated.”
The quote above is from my first mentor Mary Morrissey. The first time I heard it, I loved it, but the problem was I had never failed without feeling completely defeated before. It sounded great like most quotes do, but to me failing was synonyms with being a failure.
Later she explained to me that failure was is an indication that we are IN THE GAME, and we are swinging. Many people sit on the sidelines of their life, shrinking back in fear, and never getting up to bat. So, if I was failing that meant I was in the game which was proof that I was progressing and attempting more than most would dare. She reminded me that the year Babe Ruth hit the most home runs, he also had the most strikeouts of any other time in his career. Why? Because he was up to bat and he was swinging.
“It’s not about your misstep, it’s about your next step.”
Soon to follow her pivotal lesson, I heard a message from a pastor saying when it comes to failure, “It’s not about your misstep it’s about your next step.” I liked this because it permitted me to begin again even when I failed. I think that’s what she meant when she said keep swinging, but this frame of reference landed for me. At any point in time, I could begin again.
“Failure is simply feedback.”
Now, I like to think of failure as a navigation system rather than an identity. If I have a destination in mind and I find myself down the wrong road I use that “failure”, AKA feedback as a guide to help me get back on the right path. The same way Google Maps or Wayz redirects you, failure is no different. Yet as with anything, discernment is key. Even with failure, we need to discern if we have gone down the wrong road and need to turn around, or if we just need to persevere. I think this is especially profound if we are questioning a relationship or career path. After you’ve found clarity through discernment, this is where the power of the pivot comes in. (I’ve got a blog coming on this soon.)
“Failure is a stepping stone to success.”
If you don’t allow failure to defeat you, you can leverage it. I’m sure at one point or another you have played some type of game and lost. I’d also bet that once you played again you used the same mistakes you made in your first loss to help you to get better. Maybe you learned not to play a certain hand, make a certain move, or that you needed to slow down and think through your strategy a bit more. Every failure or mistake has in it an opportunity for growth. When we seek these lessons we can use them as a stepping stone on the path to our next win. None of your missteps are ever wasted, so I encourage you to rewrite your definition of failure AND rewrite your failures altogether.
Apply: Take a failure you’ve had and write all the lessons you have learned from that. Leverage the lesson for yourself and use them to inspire and instruct others.
“Unless you allow yourself to make mistakes, to fail, you will never have the opportunity to test the limits of what you are truly capable of.”
The quote above from author Price Pritchet is exactly why we should aim for failure. You have infinite potential that you will never see unless you stretch beyond your perceived limitations. So, get in the game and keep swinging my friends. Remember failure says NOTHING about who you are, it simply guides you on how to play your next move.