What If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail?
What came to your mind when you read that question?
Don’t make excuses about why you shouldn’t do it. Nowadays, we make all kinds of excuses to prevent us from doing. “I’m too busy, I’m too old, I’m not smart, I don’t want to disappoint others, I don’t have the financial means.” We have this habit of overthinking too much and talk ourselves out of what could be the next big thing in our lives.
It’s our fear of failing. The fear of failing forbids us to move forward. It keeps us from doing what we know we should, and it’s usually regarding something life-changing. We are taught that failure is the opposite of success. Well, it’s not — failure is part of success.
“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Jack Canfield
Having said that, how do you use failure to your advantage?
1. Expand Your Goals
Reframe failure by expanding your goals. Besides the actual result you’re aiming for, include learning something new and you will never technically fail because there is always something new to be learned. Make the shift from ‘win or fail’ to ‘win or learn’.
For example, I worked on a school project in a team of four people of which I took the role of project manager. The objective was to design a clear visual attractive product to represent the school’s curriculum for the next event. I took the role of project manager very seriously and narrowed my vision. I wanted us to succeed and failure was not an option. The pressure was on and because of the focus on succeeding, I neglected to have fun and what I could learn from the whole process.
After a feedback session, I realised that I should expand my goals into targeting the objective, while at the same time securing myself to the goal of learning something of value about managing the team. This way, I couldn’t ‘fail’ because regardless of the outcome, I was bound to learn something of value.
2. Combine Positive Thinking and Visualisation
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology published in 2011 a study in which research has shown that the best outcomes are created when we balance positive thinking with visualising the future obstacles and struggles we will encounter.
Try to think of a situation in which you are afraid of failure. Now, visualise yourself hitting an obstacle and allow yourself to feel the fear. Next, spend ten minutes planning how to overcome that obstacle and visualize yourself succeeding.
Nowadays, brain studies show that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. “Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory.” Therefore, the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization. Seeing is believing!
3. Stop Making It Personal
When we find ourselves failing, we take it personally and we always associate the failure with ourselves. When you feel upset about a specific failure, ask yourself “What are the facts in this situation?”. Try to separate facts from the story that is related to you.
Let’s use my previous example. Fact: The objective was met within the given timeframe, but people on the event still don’t think it’s clear enough. Personal story: I messed up. I could have done so much better.
Once facts are identified, notice that it’s just all that. Next time, re-write your personal story in a more positive response such as “I took the role as project manager, I learned from my mistakes and now I need to move on.” This brings me to the next topic.
4. See The Positive Side
Ask yourself these three powerful questions:
1) What did I learn from the start till the end of this experience?
2) How can I become a better person from this experience?
3) What are three positive things about this experience?
When you attempt to see the positive sides from your failure, you will see new opportunities that can come out of it.
See my previous blog ‘What Consumes Your Mind, Controls Your Life‘ on how positive thinking can push you in the right direction.
5. Feel The Fear
We often feel paralysed, because we don’t like the feeling of fear. We keep avoiding and running away from it, knowing we can never truly outrun it. But if you confront the fear and allow yourself to feel it when it shows up, you will notice that it will quickly disperse and become more manageable.
“Only by confronting your demons can you ever hope to conquer them.” – Ellen Hopkins
So, what would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
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