Three Reasons Why Failure Feels So Permanent

Three Reasons Why Failure Feels So Permanent

I was on Facebook last week and happened to see a headline that actor, Will Smith had some choice words for “The Donald”. I clicked on the headline and watched the video of his press conference in Dubai for Suicide Squad. When probed by a member of the Dubai press about the negative reviews of Suicide Squad he said the following:

” I feel like at this point in my career I’ve earned the right to fail. Right. So, I’m going to take shots and I’m not going to hit them all; because I’m going to be trying really wild, aggressive, creative things. Some of them will be critically-acclaimed, some of them will make money and some of them will be Wild, Wild West.” 

It resonated with me, because it reminded me of my own journey and relationship with failure.

Perfection be damned!

We are the most imperfect-perfect society. Most people are so broken, so lost, still learning, still striving and yet we will do everything in our power not to appear to be an overall failure. It starts when we are young. We are coached, molded and forced to put on appearances whether at church, family functions and school. The messages we receive are that mistakes are okay, but don’t make too many of them. How does something as imperfect as a human rise to such a level of perfection?

We rise to the occasion as much as our spirits can take us and eventually we all fall short. It is in those moments of imperfection that we recognize that we are fighting an uphill battle. Those messages of “failing just enough, but not too much” feel inhumane; but still we have appearances to upkeep.

Why does failure feel so permanent?

The funny thing about failure is: It isn’t permanent at all.  When I look back at my failures, there isn’t one that completely destroyed me. You couldn’t tell me that while I was going through it, but not one destroyed me.

I’ve been through a lot. Once you have overcome the fear of failure, you figure I got this.  That is until your dreams and aspirations grow even larger in size. So, here I am again wanting to expand and reach for the stars and guess who is back to torture me – our frenemies, fear and failure.

To be honest, failure is uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel like comfort food on a rainy day. It’s like the night you drank too much and prayed to get past it; while also promising never to get drunk again. In this way, much of how we approach failure has to do with mindset and approach.

Let’s explore why failure feels so permanent and what we can do to change it.

Reason 1) “If I fail, everyone will know I failed and judge me for it.” Oprah once said that every guest she had on her show from celebrities to the KKK had one thing in common- they wanted to be understood and seen for who they are.  We all worry about others seeing us fail and the opinions and/or judgments that will follow. Particularly in this digital age where everyone is so visible; failure feels very public.

Newsflash: Time fades everything – especially memory. What you think people remember about your failures is very unlikely the case. No one person should have that much power over you and your climb to success.

Reason 2) ” I feel like everything is crashing down on me in this moment of failure.” I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the feeling of failure and how this exacerbates the whole experience. As humans, we generally set out to do something and in return we expect our efforts and intentions to yield the perfect outcome. When things don’t align in the way we imagined, we generally feel like nothing can ever be better again because of that failure. Depending on the magnitude of the failure, those feelings of sadness, guilt, pessimism can last for a long time.

Newsflash: It’s important to go through those emotions, but you can’t live there forever. It’s the whole “being tired of being sick and tired”. The woeful feelings get old. Ultimately, things do get better. It requires a change of perspective and working on your approach to failure.

Reason 3) “Failure is bad and in return what I set out to do was bad.” Let’s be clear most of us don’t know how to fail and recover from it. No matter how many times we try to re-frame “failure” it is still ingrained in us as something negative. Most of us want to be seen as a success. Until recently, success was the positive end of our efforts and failure was the negative outcome of our efforts. It sounds easy enough to say we should revise our definition of success to include a healthy helping of failure, but our prior conditioning doesn’t want us to be great.

Newsflash: Let’s not romanticize failure as if all failures are equal. There are failures that result in casualties and some that are rather benign by comparison. Sometimes it really is as bad as it feels. Still, there is a lesson to learn and a wrong to make right. The grit and strength you have to use to get there is what success looks like.

Like Will Smith, I feel like I have earned the right to fail. It is a revelation you have when you have spent much of your life trying to walk a straight line. Perfection doesn’t exist. While we are all out here trying to figure out our purposes and life missions – we might as well let the failures teach us and lead us to success.

Share your feelings about “failure” with me below.

 

Plugging-In When Your Inspiration and Energy Takes a Timeout

Background image by CreateHerStock.com.

Background image by CreateHerStock.com.

For at least the past two weeks, I have been beyond tired and uninspired to write anything new. I am not a fan of forcing myself to write when I’m not feeling it, so I decided to honor the space I have been in. To describe the feeling, I have felt like I am in abyss of a wandering mind and unable to dig myself out of it.

I started out with the obvious feelings and reactions of being mad at myself for not pushing through. That was until I decided to evaluate what I have accomplished and why I may be feeling listless and lacking in new ideas.

The reality was: I have been working damn hard for over six months no real downtime. This may sound like a humblebrag, but unless you understand how an entrepreneur’s mind works that will be your only conclusion. My mind is constantly racing with thoughts of new ventures, things I need to do and questions of whether I am doing enough to reach my goals. That’s just on the professional end of things. On the personal end, it is kids, husband, home life etc.

In taking stock of what I set out to do and what I actually accomplished – it allowed me to accept my tiredness and need to unplug as a warranted effect of my hard work. Cleaning my whiteboard of projects completed wasn’t enough. I needed to take the time to write down what I had done specifically so I could quantify and see it.

I got my mojo back today!

One thing I am very intentional about is keeping the right people in my circle of trust. These people remain nameless, but I praise them loudly and often, because they keep me on target and sane.

Sharing is caring.

Today was no different – as I met with my one of my friends/business partners. We met as we do annually to discuss how our academy went. Over Mexican food and great drinks we discussed our successes and room for improvement.  We also discussed life and business since we wrapped the academies. Shockingly, I am not alone in this abyss of wandering minds. My business partner was experiencing the same feelings. A few drinks and many admissions later, we both were idea machines!

So, how does a casual lunch and drinks inspire one to move from listless to inspired again?

It’s all about people! Whether you are an entrepreneur or something else, we all have an innate need to be seen, understood, heard and empowered. We especially need this positive energy from others when we are unable to motivate ourselves .

When our smartphones are in the red and about to die, we frantically hustle to find a plug to power up our batteries again so we can continue surfing , sharing,  chatting etc. Today, my business partner and I plugged-in to one another to recharge and keep going. We essentially threw one another a lifeline.

I was convinced that my upcoming vacation alone would do the trick ( and I still kind of believe that). However, I really needed to spend some time connecting with someone in my circle of trust to put things in perspective. People often ask me if I miss working in an office with people. My answer is always “no”. I am not the kind that needs constant human interaction, but I have learned enough to know when it is prudent to tap into others.

Here are some tips for navigating periods of low-to-no inspiration or energy:

1) When your body slows you down, it is because you need to slow down. Honor that space and time and be still. It’s usually a warning to slow-down. Also, a lesson is usually on the way when this happens.

2) Evaluate how you reached this unwelcomed slowdown. More often than not, you will find that there are some steps and/or missteps that brought you to this place. Write it out, find your blindspots and forgive yourself.

3) Plug into your circle of trust. Many times we believe our struggles are unique to us. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask a question or to share your experiences will help you shake the “unique struggle” mindset. This allows you to normalize your feelings, get out of your head  and resume productivity.

Whether you are an introvert, extrovert or ambivert – people need people. If you want to be successful both professionally and in business you need to have at least one other person you can call to cry, vent , or bounce ideas off of. It is too much of an emotional and physical burden to bare for you to carry it all alone. Find your tribe and plug-in when you need to recharge. Trust me it’s okay.

 

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