The four little words you need to embrace in order to be your best? “I LOVE TO FAIL!”
Until you are comfortable with this concept, your greatest accomplishments will be just beyond you reach. You simply cannot be your best if you are doing it all right all the time.
The challenge we face is getting out of our own head and developing the willingness to be wrong. We are all products of our environments and from kindergarten through college we were rewarded for being right and punished for being wrong. We were graded every step of the way and we learned to only hold up our hands if we knew the answer because the last thing anyone wanted to hear from the teacher was “you are wrong”. We were taught to feel shame for this and it is something we learned very quickly to avoid.
The problem we struggle with after school is that the world doesn’t work like this but we are too fragile to do it any other way. We seek and are comforted by the approval of those we perceive to have authority over us. The list is very long and includes our parents, friends, spouses, significant others, bosses, co-workers, etc, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not their fault…IT IS OURS! We give them the power and then become angry, frustrated, and even bitter when they use it. We look for people to blame so that we never had to look at ourselves in the mirror and admit we gave up. We are disgusted that somewhere along the line, we lost our self-worth and allowed the world to tell us our value. This is why we avoid failing and take no chances…we are afraid that what we do defines who we are. We are not confident enough in ourselves to commit to action unless it is a guaranteed success because we cannot withstand criticism. Our fragile egos cannot handle someone’s opinion because we are somehow totally dependent on what others think instead of evaluating our own actions against our own standards. Before you listen to anyone else consider these questions:
- Why would you give more weight to someone’s opinion if all they are doing is telling you all the reasons you should not have done something?
- What have they done to earn the right to offer your their opinion?
- Did you ask for it? When is the last time they tried something and failed…and tried again?
- Is anything they are saying the slightest bit positive?
- Is everything they are sharing coming from their own fear and shame?
- Are they recommending you give up and accept your fate?
If they are, maybe you should stop talking to them! Maybe your problem is that you have surrounded yourself with people who do not strive to learn and grow? Maybe you are now just like everyone else and have become so delicate that you cannot withstand any shock to your ego? I want to stress that this is only a problem if you want to achieve your potential. If you are completely happy with your current level of performance in all aspects of our life, then please disregard everything I have shared and enjoy the rest of your charmed life!
If reading this has made you uncomfortable and upset, then you get it and I hope you are willing to do something about it. If you want to, here are a few things you can try:
- Quit worrying about your “image” and what others think of you
- Spend some time figuring out who you are (or most specifically, who you were) and understand what that means to you and those close to you
- Figure out how to be more “you” than you have been in recent years
- Find your strength in you and not from others
- Begin acting in alignment with who you are and see how that feels. There is no right or wrong (so long as it’s legal) so don’t be afraid to take some risks
- Find ways to FAIL more quickly and you will soon find that it feels quite good because at least you TRIED
- LEARN from your mistakes and continue to pursue your own version of excellence
- Find people who believe what you believe and create your own “tribe”
I leave you with these two thoughts from Teddy Roosevelt because he said it much more eloquently than I can…
“It is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” “
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”