I want to talk to you about failure.
See, in the 30 years I’ve been kicking around this planet, I’ve failed a lot.
More than a lot. Stacks of times.
A few personal highlights:
- In high school one of my teachers told me I wasn’t smart enough to do the subjects I wanted.
- The day I signed up for Ironman I couldn’t even swim 25 metres without stopping, and the furthest I could run was one kilometre. I had no idea how I was going to swim 4kms and run 42kms in just 18 months time.
- I once flew back early from an overseas trip with Interplast to go to an Awards Ceremony. I must have misread the invite because I ended up flying to a completely different city and only realised when the taxi driver told me that the address I needed him to go to didn’t exist! I had to call the event manager and pretend my plane back from Laos had been delayed because I was too embarrassed to tell the truth!
- I didn’t listen to advice and went out on a whim with something new in my business. I ended up losing money.
Failure can be humiliating.
I know you know the feeling, because I know you’ve failed a bunch of times too. It sucks right? It feels shitty.
But I kind of love failure.
Because we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.
If you think about it, failure is feedback; it’s simply showing you what’s not working so you can find out what will work. It’s necessary, hell – it’s vital! We need failure so we can grow and create and improve.
Now, that doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t feel sucky in that moment of failure. But, as Tony Robbins says, failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.
Your mistakes, your stuff ups, your failures – they’re not permanent.
That teacher who told me I wasn’t smart enough? Yeah, that felt horrible. I was shattered. But I soon proved him wrong. I studied my ass off, worked day and night on improving my grades and ended up coming first in all my subjects. (Yep, go suck it Mr Smith!).
The day I signed up to Ironman, sure, I couldn’t swim more than 25 metres. That was embarrassing. But I kept at it. There were plenty of days I didn’t finish my training and stacks of times I fell short from where I “should” have been. But that’s ok. I got better, and who crossed that Ironman finish line not once, but twice last year? Yeah, this old gal!
The day I flew to the wrong city? Well, that felt crap, but that feeling didn’t last. And now I double check every invite I RSVP to, haha!
And when it comes to my business, I’m sure there are going to be plenty of times things don’t work out the way I hope. But I learnt a heap from that particular experience – it exposed some big flaws in the way I structured my business, things I’ve since been able to fix and improve.
The point is – your failures don’t define who you are, they simply help you define a better path forward. – Tweet it.
After all, if we didn’t have failure, how would we know what to do next?
My challenge to you – I want you to start seeing your failures as something positive, something vital to your survival.
Think about a time you failed recently. Maybe you stuffed up at work, or let down a friend or didn’t achieve a goal you were working towards. What did that failure teach you? Did it highlight a new way forward – something to fix and improve or something new to try?
Let me know in the comments below.
PS – I talk a bit more about this kind of stuff inside Good Selfie, my new eBook for teens. If you know a teenager who might want to know more, check it out here.