In the world of empowerment, coaching, and self-improvement, you often hear the question, “What would you do, if you knew you would not fail?” This question can open up your vision, helping you to see it unclouded by fear. This question can also support you in identifying what is important to you, your value drivers, and even a life path.
What’s so bad about failure? People who are very accomplished have a healthy relationship to failure. They embrace it, watch for it, and learn from their mistakes. They know that WHO they are is not affected, or even a measure of their current results.
Consider that you are not your mistakes, and you are not your behaviors. Those are changeable. Who you are, as a human being, is constant. Your essence, your qualities, and your values are intrinsic. Your ability to love, connect and make a difference are bigger than an event. People who can fall down, then smile, pick themselves up and keep going, know the big secret. You have to be bad at something and keep going, to eventually master it. Mastery is a succession of failures, not wins.
Understand this: When you fail at something, you are not a failure. When you make a mistake, you are not a mistake. When you do something wrong, you are not wrong. Consider your perceived failures. How did you grow from them?
Rejection, suffering, self-doubt, fear, depression, and dissatisfaction are part of the human experience that we too often don’t acknowledge. We run from these emotions, take a pill, pretend that the discomfort does not exist.
We are very anxious to get out of those feelings in this culture, as if there is something wrong with them. Most of the time these feelings are just part of being human, and it is normal to get discouraged. It is normal to hurt sometimes, to feel left out sometimes, to be sad sometimes. Stop avoiding the perceived discomfort of risk and failure. Go for it!
This is what there is to embrace…you can’t have these other experiences of joy, reason, love, accomplishment and peace of mind, without having the uncomfortable ones too.
Instead of imagining “no fear”, consider the question, “What would you do, even if you would likely fail?”
Would you still stay up all night trying to connect with someone who is contemplating suicide? Would you still feed a child, knowing there may not be food tomorrow? Would you still go to work in the face of seemingly insurmountable bills? Would you still do the research, knowing that the scientific community may call you a “quack”? Would you still give a blanket to a homeless man, knowing he may not make it through the winter? Would you still get married to someone you love, if you knew it would only last 15 years? Would you walk in front of hundreds of people to begin a conversation no one wants to talk about, knowing you would be unwelcome?
What would you still do, even though you would likely fail? When I consider leadership development, I think this question is a far more powerful catalyst for growth. It has the power to elicit courage, strengthen values, and tap into a willingness to step up and forward – to stand out when there is “no agreement” from others, and to step away from the pack toward the possibility a better future for us all. This is leadership.
Fear isn’t stopping you. Your notions about fear and failure are.
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – W.H. Murray, From the Scottish Himalayan Expedition
People Biz, Inc. is a leadership development organization that focuses on transformational leadership initiatives for individuals, teams and organizations. Their award winning leadership program “Leading Change” uses the fundamental principles of Transformational Leadership to not just talk about leadership but to develop powerful leaders.
About the Author
Alicia Marie, Founder and Managing Director of People Biz, Inc., has become a national leader in the field of leadership development. She founded People Biz, Inc. in 2000 with the intention of providing total personal and professional development solutions for individuals, teams and organizations. She specializes in creating customized programs based on desired outcomes that include learning vehicles such as training, professional coaching and consulting.