If you don’t fail, you’re probably not trying. You’re probably not pushing your known skills to the edge of the next level. If you don’t fall, you’re playing it safe.
That’s fine. If safety is more important to you than growth, then that’s a perfectly fine outcome.
If maintaining the status quo is your goal. Then playing it safe is a great strategy.
However, everything changes at some point in time. The status quo you seek. It will become more difficult to maintain. You’ll find, each year, each month, that it takes more energy to preserve the status quo. In hindsight, that same amount of energy could have been spent leveling up.
The reality of life is that nothing will ever work out exactly how you had planned. Why? Because no single one of us can predict the future. Chaos happens and will happen.
What do you need to overcome failure?
Three things: resolve, perseverance, and grit
Here are definitions for each of them:
The “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
A “firm determination to do something.”
“Courage and resolve; strength of character.”
Here are some similar words that give you a better idea of what grit means:
These three things don’t happen in a vacuum. You also have to believe in the purpose of what you’re trying to achieve. You must have a clear ‘why’ for what you’re doing.
If you don’t, then no amount of perseverance, resolve or grit will help you.
So what if you fail? Who cares. Will it ruin your project? Will it cost you your life? Will you lose your family? If you answer ‘yes’ to any one of these, then you may want to step back and reconsider your options.
If the answer is ‘no’, then keep pushing forward. Try to fail. Learn from your mistakes. Get better. Keep moving forward.
Irrational Fear: An Example
I worked at Microsoft in fear. Fear of receiving a bad review. Fear that it may prevent me from moving into another role that was a better fit for me, my strengths and my skills. Fear of not being able to get another recruiting job if I left Microsoft. The truth was that I didn’t want another recruiting job. Fear I would be another middle-aged professional that couldn’t find a job and was sitting at home mired in ‘what if’s’.
The reality? None of that happened. In fact, leaving Microsoft pushed me out of my comfort zone. Gave me the confidence that I could change careers. But fear eventually crept back in.
It always does. I’ve had several ideas over the past few years that I haven’t pursued because of fear. Not just fear, but because I didn’t truly understand how grit, resolve and perseverance worked. Because I didn’t understand that a dip was going to happen. That an idea or business doesn’t go from zero to raging success without stumbles and second-guessing.
Why do I or any of you think we’re better than any other person that has become successful? That’s exactly what we think when we have an idea for a project, business or something else and we give up when we hit a stumble. That it must not have been a good idea because it didn’t work out exactly as planned.
Ask Michael Jordan about the times he failed. Ask Bill Gates. Ask Thomas Edison- it's well known how many times he failed.
Hell, ask RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.
When they make movies about famous people becoming successful and famous those movies are never about things going smoothly. Never an obstacle to overcome. They always involve a dip, resistance, and adversity. At times, it probably feels as though the world has conspired against them.
I’m watching “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” on Hulu. It’s one of the best series I’ve watched in a long time.
They were dealt failure after failure. Bad break after back break. But yet they overcame it all to become one of the most successful hip hop artists of all time.
If You Seek Change, You Seek Failure
Essentially, what I’m telling you is if you’re trying to make change, failure is going to happen. Embrace it. You’ll learn a lot from it. You’ll be better because of it. Understand that you’ll encounter the ‘dip’. When you do, that’s the time to engage perseverance, resolve, and grit.
Stop talking yourself out of being great. Stop listening to the lizard brain focused on irrationally keeping you safe. Go make things happen.
Go be great.
Step. By. Step. By. Step...