Succeed by Failing Massively

by Mark on May 27, 2010 · 2 comments

I’m going to go out on a limb. I will bet that you couldn’t walk on the day that you were born. Assuming that you can now walk, you became successful at walking by failing MASSIVELY. You got up. You fell. You got up. You fell. You repeatedly failed over and over again. Eventually your persistence paid off. You began to walk more and more and failed less and less. Without reading a single personal development book, you applied this success strategy to everything you did. You learned to speak, dress, ride a bike, and do all sorts of things by being persistent in the face of massive failure.

You Were Born Relentless…

As a small child, nothing was going to get in your way of learning how to be successful. Adults were wimps compared to you. Failure didn’t phase you. You just pressed on and tried again and again. You relentlessly took action over and over. Your ego never used failure as an excuse to quit.  And it’s a good thing! Can you imagine if you gave up on learning to walk or talk or dress or feed yourself? Luckily, your parents encouraged the heck out of you. They smiled and cheered you on at your every attempt, and they praised any sign of improvement as a success. You linked pleasure with making an attempt whether it resulted in success or failure.

… and Then It All Changed.

Eventually, the party was over. As you began to get older, your parents began to cut you less slack. Failure became less acceptable. Your parents did this because they felt that they were protecting you. In some ways, they were. Unfortunately, the criticisms piled up over the years and conditioned you to fear failure. Now you fear failure even when it rationally doesn’t make sense. You are afraid to ask out the pretty girl or the handsome boy. You are afraid of speaking in public. You are afraid to ask for the sale. These are all actions that really can’t hurt you, but the fear of failure is deeply conditioned from childhood.

Okay, So Now What?

I’m glad you asked. It’s a very good question. It’s also a question that I don’t quite have a great answer to. Overcoming strong conditioning is difficult. We have to find a way to make failure less painful if we are ever going to have the relentlessness that we were all born with. We have to find a way to take our ego out of it. If we continue to take failure personally, then it is something we will continue to avoid, and there is simply no way to be successful without failing. A lot. If you can genuinely change your beliefs about what failure means to you, then your behavior will follow.


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