How the hell did you get convinced that Failure was a bad thing?
I’ve been racking my brain and can’t recall how it got so ingrained in me.
Do you know how it got there?
Maybe this post doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you don’t get nervous when you set major goals in your life. Maybe you don’t look into the future and become overwhelmed with the ideas of everything that can go wrong.
Maybe you’re one of those lucky people who don’t have to wade through a swamp filled with self-doubt every time you set your intentions to do something new.
If so, please keep reading. Maybe this post will help you understand some of your friends and family. (send it to them)
If you’re like me and you get a rush of negative feedback every time you set an intention then let me first commend you for noticing it.
Now that you’re aware of this habit; STOP IT!
Seriously. Stop allowing yourself to hold on to those excuses.
I don’t know if you know this, but most likely; You’re going to fail.
It’s inevitable. It’s how we learn. It’s perfectly natural for you to fail.
How long it take you to talk?
How long did it take you to walk, or run?
Could you imagine if everyone pointed and laughed at children every time they fell down in the first few years?
Well, that’s pretty much what my brain does complete mastery of whatever it is I decide to do isn’t achieved every time I try it.
My life over the past 3 years has been a series of Awesome Failures.
Huge Failure #1 My Book Launch
I held a book launch party on June 18, 2011. It was a blast! Nearly 100 people came out to buy a book and get it signed.
I was so disappointed.
I can’t recall the number of people who told me they’d be there who never showed (more than 200). I failed to recognize and honor all who showed up. My mind focused on the missing sales. If you were there please know that I am so very grateful for your presence.
The morning after the party feelings of failure welled up deep inside of me. Anger followed. My spirit felt crushed.
Two days went by and the feelings gained strength.
After deciding to go for a hike I pouted my way to the Jeep. My dad stopped me and said
“Hey bud. Whoever that Jack Johnson guy is; F*@K HIM!”
It stopped me in my tracks. My Dad had already finished reading the book; and he “got it!”
“I’ve never seen anyone in my life work as hard as you on anything. You’ll figure this shit out someday and there are going to be a couple hundred people who will remember Saturday and think; ‘Damn I could have been there at his first book signing. So go for your hike, and get your head out of your ass and go back and try something else. That book you wrote is amazing. You’re already successful.”
It took a few months for that moment to really sink in. But, it was enough for me to get myself refocused and moving again. So, apparently the book launch wasn’t a failure after all.
Lesson Here: Expand your definition of successful Today to include the tiniest of details.
So many people I love showed up to support me along with people I’ve never even met. I inspired my own father to make changes in his life. I PUBLISHED A BOOK! (who does that?)
A few weeks after the book launch I got an email about the editing.
Failure #2: My First Book SUCKED!
The first edition has an editing mistake on every single page. The layout sucks. The Subtitle Sucks. The cover needed revised as well.
Because so many people pledged support I decided to purchase 1,000 copies; and I have over 700 copies of the first.
The second edition SUCKED too!
When I went to put the book on tape a lot of the sections were sticky. So I edited to the current edition.
That’s Right 3rd edition. Overall I spent 2 years, 8 months, and 24 days working on a book that on a “Pay-it-Forward” system that less than 2% of the people that download the PDF actually purchase it.
I screwed something up and it got named (Volume 1). I’m still not sure how that happened.
The lesson here: If you don’t take the time to do it right the first time, then take the time to do it again…and again until it’s right.
Second lesson here: Learn to keep taking action even in the absence of results.
Failure #3 My Newsletter Setup.
If you signed up for this newsletter when I wrote an article for TinyBuddha, then you probably experienced a lot of technical difficulties in getting your free PDF copy of the book. It seems I’m really good at screwing things up.
But, I’m a one-man show and learning all this stuff as I go. So, I adjust and move on. This tech stuff has a learning curve, but in the end it’s worth it.
Lesson Here: When you put yourself out there you’re going to look foolish from time to time.
After writing last week’s post, I sat and thought about how to get through this failing cycle in an easier fashion.
It seems that failing is inevitable.
That’s Step One; Recognize that Failure is a Requirement
Every great person I’ve studied embraces failure. I love that Nike Commercial with Michael Jordan.
Step Two: Discover a Sense of Non-dependent Worthiness
Did you know you have a “Set Point” of happiness and self-worth?
You do, and you can raise it.
To start; recognize that you are amazing.
I don’t care about your past, your deep dark secrets or what someone told you about yourself when you were 6 years old.
YOU EXIST. That’s enough.
You’re a miracle. You’re a gift. Recognize that and OWN IT!
This will give you a good baseline of inherent self-worth. Now, you have to build on it. That’s where goals come into play.
Set goals and strive to experience “better.”
Not out of a sense that you’re lacking in some manner, but out of the sense that you want to experience that ‘thing’. Then commit to action.
When you fail at something, contemplate the ideas that Everything is Temporary and Change is Constant. Then take a look at your “failure.”
Examine your part in it and change your actions to better align you with the results you desire.
Step Three: Take Responsibility
Say to yourself and to the twitterverse;
Now think about what you can do differently to produce different results.
But, before you continue; You may want to go through this checklist.
- Forgive anyone else involved for anything they may have done to contribute to your failure.
- Apologize for any negative reactions you had as a result of thing not working out the way you wanted them to.
- Let go of guilt. You did the best you could at the given moment.
- Resolve to do better from this point forward.
Which leads us to:
Step Four: Learn from Your Mistakes.
When you’re going through the “beat yourself phase” take note of what you’re saying to yourself. That’s a list of things that didn’t work out the way you expected. You need to know that stuff.
You also may need to find a more gentle way of talking to yourself. I can help you with that if you’d like.
The process of Learning from your mistakes is simple.
1. Ask yourself “What didn’t work out the Way I needed it to?”
2. Ask yourself “What did work out?
Step Five: Do It All Today
Each day is all you have. Make the best use of your time. That does not include beating yourself up for the stuff that happened or didn’t happen in the past.
I suggest that with each of your major goals you have a list of 3 action steps that you can take each day. Write out on a single note card the goal and the action steps you choose. Then do it!
If you have a card for each of the 5 areas of your life and you commit to taking the actions listed on a regular basis you will see lasting changes in your life. You’ll adjust and make the actions more challenging as time moves forward.
But, you’ll be doing this with an attitude of “Just Because I’m Here Today.”
If you stop being afraid of looking foolish by doing something stupid you’ll be able to overcome the biggest obstacle in your life; YOU.
Now please go out there today and Fail at something!
Then fail at it again tomorrow. Fail so much that one day you succeed. Then find a new thing to fail at doing; Repeat over and over again until you’re dead.
I failed at filming a YouTube video for you this week and later today, I’m going to fail at the completion of 100 pushups in a row, 25 pull-ups and 50 burpees.
What do you want to fail at today? (comment below)