Get Out There and ‘Fail’! Article by: Jeff Keller

Remember when you learned how to ride a bicycle? With training wheels it was easy and a good introduction, but you aspired to ride free. Then, the training wheels came off, and things became more difficult.

You were scared … but excited! You struggled to stay upright and endured the inevitable falls, bumps, bruises, and scrapes. But you kept going. You looked forward to the time when you would succeed, when you would at last ride free on your own. So, you kept at it every day, and eventually mastered the skill of riding a bike.

Let’s examine how you now approach the development of new skills. Do you move forward with excitement, willing to perform unsuccessfully until you master the challenge? Do you jump at the chance to try something new or to “prove yourself” in the face of unforeseen obstacles? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably no.

So, what’s changed between your “bike riding days” and today? For one thing, I’ll bet that you’ve become a lot more concerned about the opinions of others, often hesitating because of possible criticism and ridicule. Sure, it can be “uncomfortable” to try something new, perhaps even scary. But if you take your eye off the goal and instead focus your attention on how others may be viewing you, you are doing yourself a grave disservice.

Successful people learn to “fail” their way to success. While they may not particularly enjoy their “failures,” they recognize them as a necessary part of the road to victory. After all, proficiency at any skill requires time, effort, and discipline … and the willingness to persevere through whatever difficulties may arise.

Acclaimed TV talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael, by her own account, couldn’t pay her credit card bills for 26 years. In that period, she moved 25 times looking for work, was fired 18 times, and never earned more than $22,000 a year. Worse yet, there were times when she lived on food stamps and slept in her car. At what point should she have given up?

So, when you get right down to it, there is no such thing as failure — there are only results, some more successful than others. Failure means you’ve reached the end of the line and that success is not possible. The only time that happens is when you quit. Quitting is final. But continued attempts, with commitment and diligence, can be turned into success.

Key Questions

If you aren’t getting the results you want or have been discouraged by failures, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have an unrealistic timetable?
    Maybe you expect to “skip steps” and succeed on a grand scale immediately. Success is usually achieved by climbing one step at a time. So, be patient with yourself — and resist the temptation to compare your progress with that of anyone else.
  2. Am I truly committed?
    Do you have a burning desire to achieve your goal? It’s essential that you be willing to do whatever it takes (within legal and ethical bounds, of course!) and that you banish any thought of giving up before you accomplish your objective.
  3. Do I have too many discouraging influences?
    Unsuccessful results can be frustrating. That’s why we need to surround ourselves with those who support and believe in us. If you hang around with negative people who are highly critical or who are doing very little in their own lives, your energy and enthusiasm will be drained.
  4. Am I preparing to succeed?
    Success in any endeavor requires thorough preparation. Are you taking steps to learn everything you can about accomplishing your goal? This means reading books, listening to audio programs, taking courses, and networking with highly successful people in your field. It might mean finding a mentor or getting a coach to work with you. Successful individuals are always sharpening their skills.
  5. Am I truly willing to fail?
    Face it; it’s going to happen. You will encounter defeat before you succeed. Look failure squarely in the face and see it as a natural part of the success process. Then, failure will lose its power over you. The truth is, when you are not afraid to fail, you’re well on the way to success. Welcome failure as an unavoidable yet vital component in the quest to achieve your goals.

Your failures are learning experiences that point out the adjustments you must make. Never try to hide from failure, for that approach guarantees that you will take virtually no risks and will achieve very little.

No, you won’t close every sale. And you won’t make money on every investment. Life is a series of wins and losses, even for the most successful. If you make it your business to learn from every defeat and stay focused on the end result you wish to attain, failure will eventually lead you to success!

Jeff Keller is the President of Attitude Is Everything Inc. Learn more about Jeff and his bestselling book Attitude Is Everything.