Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. – John F. Kennedy
I find the connection between success and failure a fascinating topic. Essentially, everybody wants to be successful. You and me might have different definitions for success, but for all intents and purposes we want success.
On the other hand, I still have to meet somebody who says to me “I want to fail” or “I want more failure”.
Curiously this is true, even though we´ve all probably heard or read many times that failure and making mistakes is just the other side of the golden coin called success.
Most of us are familiar with sayings like “to be successful you have to fail” or “failure is the stepping stone to success”. Still, we´d rather become successful without failure because more often than not we experience failure not as a stepping stone but a huge, hurtful roadblock – or even the staircase to hell.
Let´s think about this for a moment – isn´t that interesting? After all, the whole idea of failure is not something we´ve been born with, but what we´ve learned to believe in and fear way back in our personal histories.
Otherwise we already would have feared to fail when we learned to walk. But instead we kept pulling us up and taking a step and falling and failing hundreds of times before we really could walk. Actually, according to a study, babies learn to walk after thousands of steps and a dozens of falls per day!
Now that is a failure ratio that would drive most of us to feel like a total loser and to give up for good. Luckily, as long as a baby is physically healthy and equipped to walk, it will not give up and not have any inner dialogue or bad feelings about what a big failure it is. Not even the baby´s parents will stand there watching and saying “Oh my God, it fell again! That´s a dozen times today! What a failure. Our baby has just no talent to walk. It´ll never succeed. Let´s get a wheelchair.”
But instead the parents cheer their baby on, and each of its attempts and little one-step-successes, too. Meanwhile the baby keeps on failing miserably and thus achieves greatly: the freedom and power to walk on its own feet wherever it wants to. What a success! And I mean the result AND the process!
So it´s not necessary to fear failure or to avoid it, as long as we don´t buy into the hurtful story being told about failing: that it means were not always good, worthy, talented and loveable enough just the way we are, no matter what we achieve or not. That it means, we don´t deserve or are unable to reach our goals and live our dreams. That it proves that we will never – really – succeed. That therefore we need to fear failing and falling from the high pedestal of perfection that is supposed to save us from the guilt and shame of failing.
This story is self-defeating and simply not true. There is nothing to be ashamed of or to feel guilty of failing or making a mistake. Your innate worthiness and goodness, your talents and lovableness are independent of your failures – and even of your successes. When you recognize this you´ll gain true success paired with freedom and happiness. Then the fear of failure will become meaningless and you can safely live and create from this truth: Failure is purely feedback to learn faster and become a master in what you´re doing. That´s what allows you to experience success in the process and at the finish. So you don´t need to avoid or overcome failure, but embrace it whenever it happens as an initially unexpected outcome that helps you to eventually create your desired results.
So here is my question for you: A variation of the well-known “What would you do if you could not fail?”: “What would you do if you could fail without feeling like a failure at all?”