From as far back as I can remember, failure was the ultimate no no. In school if you fail a test, you didn’t try hard enough. In sports, if you weren’t “naturally,” an athlete you were told to find another sport, or another activity that you could excel in. If you had an idea that didn’t work out the first time or two, it was time for you to find a “better” idea. We are the most exploratory beings when we are young, so if we are constantly told to stop when we fail, what type of adults do we become?
Thinking back to my own childhood, I was naturally smart according to my teachers and parents. I was always on A/B honor roll, winning academic awards, and asked to help others in the classroom who were struggling. Reality was, I was doing just enough to get by. I honestly just knew how to take tests and memorize what I needed to in order to get the grades I needed, to be able to do the activities that I wanted. What I really wanted to be was a track star. I loved playing sports and being active. Track and field was my sport of choice. I loved getting sweaty, chillin with my teammates, and competing. However, I was not the typical size for a sprinter. I was short and about 20 pounds heavier than most coaches saw at the time. I wasn’t winning races out the gate, so between my coaches and parents, I was discouraged really fast. They either told me I needed to lose a lot of weight or find another sport because I didn’t have the natural ability to attain the level of success I was looking for. You can’t blame adults for teaching what was taught to them, and the growth mindset was unheard of at the time; so if you weren’t considered good you should give it up. I continued to run from elementary to high school because I simply enjoyed the sport, however I never classified myself as a star. I won some races but I only put forth enough effort to be good, but not great. Do you see a pattern here?
I knew that failure was frowned upon, so in order to not be considered a failure, I did just enough to be seen as a success. Isn’t that how most of us adults operate now? We stick to things we’re good at, and either don’t try the things and activities that might cause us to lose, fail, quit, or make us look stupid. I can remember when I first began training clients. I thought I knew everything there was to know about how to train, how to get results, how to get clients… until I received a job at Equinox. I thought I was really doing something, because I was the ONLY girl who was hired on in that wave of new hires. I was confident that I was the sh*t and they thought I was the sh*t as well. Let’s just say I had a rude awakening. I quickly learned that I didn’t know much about how the body works or how to train (Equinox has an exceptional training program), other trainers knew more than me and had their clients getting results fast, AND I didn’t know how to close the deal. I went from feeling like a star to nobody. Instead of embracing this learning experience and reaching out to ask for help, I started justifying why others were better than me and why I could never be as great as them. So guess what I started doing? You guessed it! Just enough to get by and maintain, and for the first time I was coming up last. People that I was hired on with were starting to make good money and move up the tiers, while I was slowly moving nowhere. My manager at the time took the time to talk to me, in order to try and help, and I just came up with excuses. I eventually psyched myself out and came up with a reason I needed to quit, and went back to teaching; something I didn’t really like, but I was good enough at. Eventually I gained enough courage to believe and bet on myself. I took the time to learn more about the human body and retain information, I learned how to talk to people and become a warm person, and I learned that I wont always do everything perfectly, and that’s ok.
Think of all the times you quit because you didn’t want to fail or it was just too hard. How
many opportunities and experiences have you missed out on because of it? Failing should never be looked at in a negative light. They are learning experiences that help you get to the ultimate success. There is a quote that says, “Most great people have achieved their greatest success, just one step beyond their greatest failure.” In my own growth journey I have learned this to be true. I am still failing forward in many areas of my life. There are days in my personal life that I want to give up on people and relationships because it's too hard, but I’ve learned most times the act of communicating and showing that you care can improve any relationship. In business sometimes I make decisions that cause me to lose that day, that week, or that month. It used to discourage me and prevent me from making decisions, but after seeing some of those hard decisions turn into wins, I have no problem losing sometimes, because I learned.
Check out these six important things to remember when failing forward:
Take failure as a learning experience
Failure is not the end all be all. Stay consistent and keep trying.
Welcome challenges, don’t just look for the easy way out. If it doesn’t challenge you, it’s probably not worth it.
Celebrate the small wins. Always take the time to acknowledge when you’ve overcome an obstacle or get a win.
Allow room for disappointment: It’s ok to feel disappointed and defeated when failure initially happens. Feel it, then let it go.
Stay focused and move forward: set backs, disappointments, and failure will happen, it’s just a part of the process. Stay focused on the goal and you cannot lose.
In conclusion, fail, and fail again, just fail faster. Your greatest wins come out of stepping out of your comfort zone and just continuously trying. Every great person failed many times before success. You can do this! Peace, love, and light.