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Forget success. Fail more!

Last time I wrote about the success mindset and why, if you actually want to succeed, it’s not the brightest idea to think about all the potential for failure. If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out.
But before you say anything, let me tell you: there is nothing inherently bad about failure.

Let’s start from the beginning..

What is failure?

Failure refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.


Yeah, it looks bad.

Nobody likes not meeting a desirable or intended objective, otherwise it definitely wouldn’t be intended, and if it’s desirable, then not meeting it, well.. isn’t.

But what failure is isn’t the problem, what failure entails is.

The consequences of failure

Failure has bad press, most people associate failure with really nasty stuff, such as:

  • shame
  • rejection
  • loss
  • unfulfilled expectations
  • broken promises
  • anger
  • devaluation of one’s self

I’m pretty sure you associate failure with at least part of this list. So you try your best to avoid failure, to the point that, sometimes, it means not trying.

Failure is success!

According to common belief, failure is the opposite of success.. But did you ever think about all the other side-effects of failure:

  • learning what to do and what not to do to obtain a certain result
  • having new ideas of semi-related or completely unrelated projects
  • getting an opportunity to change your path and try something new
  • enjoying the journey itself instead of focusing everything on the results
  • gaining plain experience

Not that bad anymore, right?

So.. why is it so hard to accept failure?

The judgement of others

How is your social support group? Is it supporting of your entreprises? Or does it want you not to try because of potential failure? or because of potential success?

The difference might be the one between trying and not trying, succeeding in what you want or not.

Some communities value failure more than others, so try to be mindful about what your community expects and how it supports you. If possible you want one that will motivate you to succeed but value failure for what it is: a proof of courage and a beneficial experience.

If your community doesn’t provide what you want and need, either find a new community more accepting of your tries and goals, or, at least, do your best to detach yourself from the comments you might receive.

Your own judgement

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

Sir Winston Churchill

While a supporting tribe will definitely help, it is not of much use if you base your self-worth on your successes, or more appropriately, in not failing.

If you want to be happy, to accomplish your goals, you need to fail, and more than that, you need to accept to fail. Bonus points if you “seek” failure by trying anything that you want even if it’s out of your league (for now). But, no points if you deliberately fail at something you want to accomplish, though. Try to experience, learn. And be playful about it all.

Success isn’t the point of life, experience is, and in order to experience, you need to be willing to fail.

What are you willing to risk in order to do and get what you want?

You’re right, you’re gonna fail.

photo credit: salimfadhley

Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.
Henry Ford

Have you ever heard someone complaining about an activity, a new sport, a contest, or anything that they might fail, and say “What’s the point? I’m not good enough” or any variant of “I can’t do it”?

Yeah, me too.

When that happens, I feel like I’m gonna explode, jump and grab them, then shake their poor body until they stop saying such stupid things.

We are what we think

The brain (and the universe) will do whatever it can to bring you what you expect. If you expect to fail, it will bring you failure, because this is what you wished for. If you expect success, and do whatever is necessary to make it so, it will give its best to accomplish your desire.

If you want to succeed, think like a successful person. Of course, there is never, ever, a guarantee of results, but I assure you that the journey itself is completely different.

Do you honestly believe that the people who complain all the time and never miss an opportunity to tell everyone they’re going to fail actually want to succeed?

They want comfort, and to be allowed to fail

There are basically three reasons people set themselves up for failure:

  • They want encouragement, they want to be told that they’re wrong, that they will succeed. Basically they want others to make them feel better about themselves.
  • They want to be allowed to fail. When they say they’re gonna fail, they try to remove expectations from other people, because they don’t feel like they can handle them, they don’t want the risk of disappointing their family and friends. They want to make sure it’s alright to fail.
  • They want to be comfortable, and right. They want to be able to say “yeah, well, I told you I couldn’t do it”, so they’d rather fail as a rule than own and assume responsibility for their own outcomes.

Change your outlook

In any case, you don’t know for sure whether you’re going to fail or succeed. So saying “I’m gonna succeed” is no less true than “I’m gonna fail”, and it is much more encouraging.

Besides, if someone tells you they’re no good at anything, are going to fail, who are you to question them? When we meet someone and we perceive that “failure vibe”, we trust them to.. fail. After all, they know better than we do. And then starts a vicious circle, if you complain and set for failure, you won’t get the social support and friends that could help you succeed. Whereas if you are determined to succeed, the people around you will do their best to help you.

Yes, “blindly” aiming for success means you risk disappointment.

But not only is the path itself much more pleasant, it’s also much more satisfying in the long term to set for succes even if you fail than set for failure and meet your expectation.

Don’t you agree?