By: Lisa M. Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
I have a friend who took on a massive project last year. It was a life/career-defining decision and the risks were relatively high. She put every single thing she had into it, including most of her savings and about seventy hours a week of her time.
This woman is smart, engaging, adaptable, and an incredible leader. She assembled a winning team of the best in the business and they were happy to follow her because the inspiration she had for the project was contagious.
And it first things were going exactly as predicted. However, within a few months, it was obvious the risk was not going to pay off. The day she called every one of her employees together to tell them their last paycheck was going to be their next paycheck was one of the worst days of her life.
However, three weeks later when she cleaned out her office and handed the keys to the building back to the real estate agent she’d leased it from, she knew she was going to be ok. She didn’t know how, but she knew when and that when was right then.
When I talked to her a few days later she said something that stuck out for me. “Anyone who tells themselves failure is not an option isn’t fully committed. Failure is always a risk, and if you don’t love it enough to take that risk, knowing you might not succeed, you probably don’t love it enough – you are not all in until you’re willing to do it knowing you might not win.”
This coming from a woman, who at the time was considering moving in with her sister because she was unemployed and rent was high, seemed a little detached from the reality of her dire financial situation. However, knowing her the way I do, I was not at all surprised when she was back on her feet and back in business with a pile of grant money just a couple of months later.
“But I’m afraid I’ll fail.” , said every person who is stuck.
And the truth is, you might. However, the bigger truth is, that might not be a big deal. In fact, it might actually be good for you to blow it spectacularly.
1. If you fail often enough you will learn that it doesn’t impact your happiness for more than a few minutes.
There have been a lot of studies on happiness and all of them point to the same conclusions. We are not very good predictors of what will make us happy. We tend to set goals for ourselves thinking that achieving those goals will make us happier people and that failing to achieve those goals will have the opposite effect.
However, life, and those studies teach us something different. When someone fails, within days of the failure, no matter how big that failure may seem at the time, baseline happiness returns to, well, baseline.
Conversely, reaching a goal rarely results in the long-term bump in happiness we think it will. After a big win, within days, happiness levels also return to baseline.
Failing teaches us that our most important work is to tend to that baseline happiness, or dominant vibration because over the course of learning to fail we typically learn failing or winning for that matter, doesn’t matter as much as we thought it would.
Happiness is a choice, not a reward. Both failure and success teach us that.
2. If you fail and don’t quit you will learn from your mistakes and evolve.
Big successes, discoveries, and achievements are almost always a process and that process involves failing a lot.
People who seem to have a knack for succeeding are also who people who see what some might see as a failure, more as a setback or a step in the process. They don’t mind things not working out, in fact, they expect things to go sideways and they are ok with that. They review the data, learn from their mistakes and move on smarter.
“Winners” are not afraid of failure because they look at that success as a series of experiments they refine until they get their desired result. They don’t see failure as losing – ever.
The bottom line is: Failing makes us smarter and more adaptable. The things we learn when we fail tend to make us more effective in all areas of our lives, not just the area we failed in.
3. If you fail and roll with it you will get bolder and develop a higher threshold for risk-taking.
Most of us live through our failures and every time you do, you learn that failing will not kill you. As we fail and survive we tend to innately get more risk tolerant.
Really bold courageous people know that there is very little risk in failing because they’ve got a lot of experience with it. When they take on something new, they do it knowing that “failing” is an option but that potential failure isn’t really a cause for concern. It’s not a preferred outcome, but if they fail, it’s a temporary event, not a defining moment.
Luck tends to favor the bold and nothing makes us more risk-tolerant than a string of failures.
4. Failing makes us more vulnerable and vulnerability is sexy.
A good old fashioned, painful failure will knock the edges off your ego really quickly. When that happens a softer more resilient version of ourselves emerges.
Failure teaches us we are not invincible. Failure teaches makes us more compassionate. Failure makes expands our capacity to feel our feelings.
Failure makes us both more vulnerable and strong all at the same time.
Strength in vulnerability is very attractive and that kind of attractive can be forged in failure faster than anywhere else.
You’re almost bulletproof if you learn to value yourself for both your failures and successes equally. From that place, vulnerability becomes a super-power not a risk.
5. Failing gives us the opportunity to find the feel-good without attachment to results.
Failing gives us the opportunity to practice choosing to feel good, or at least better, no matter what’s happening around us. Anyone can have a good time winning, but the real prize goes to someone who chooses to enjoy themselves even when they are failing.
Failure can teach us to detach from the opinions of others.
Failure can teach us to be more tender to ourselves.
The red hot fire of failure can be the best place to build muscles around finding a better feeling thought and if that’s all we get out of an experience, it has not been a failure. There is no more valuable skill to own that learning to find a better feeling thought, not just when things are going your way, but despite how things are going when they aren’t.