The fear of failure can hold us back in so many ways. It can stop us from attempting to do something we want to achieve, and it can prevent us from stopping doing something we want to stop.
I want you to think about failure a little bit differently. When you attempt something and you don’t get the desired outcome, instead of thinking about having failed, ask yourself what you can learn from the experience. You should set yourself up for success, by attempting something knowing that you will either have a successful outcome or you will have a successful learning experience. Either way that’s a win-win situation… you have nothing to lose, you cannot lose something that you never had in the first place.
Let me illustrate this point to you. Let’s say you had a £10 note in your pocket, and when you went to retrieve it you realised it’s gone. Perhaps you took keys out of that pocket earlier and you now realise you must have accidentally dropped the £10 note when you pulled your keys out. You’ve lost that £10 note. You had it to begin with and now it’s gone, you’ve lost it.
Now let’s say you go for a job interview, and the job interview doesn’t go that well, and you don’t get the job. You haven’t lost. The job wasn’t yours to lose in the first place. Have you failed? Not really, because you can get feedback on that interview so that you can take the learning and improve for the future. You might be able to get feedback from the interviewer, or you can recall how it went yourself. Ask yourself questions that will give you the answers you need. Did you prepare for the interview properly? Did you do your research on the company properly? Were you dressed appropriately? Did you get there on time? Were you nervous? Ask yourself the right questions so that you can improve in these areas for the future.
You may have heard of Thomas Edison, he’s probably best known for his invention of the light bulb. On being questioned about his many failed attempts he quite famously said
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
He is also known to have said:
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.”
And my favourite Thomas Edison quote is:
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.