Failure is a scary word for many people. The thought of it happening to you makes you stop before you start. But what if I told you there is a way to fail differently? Would you then take a step towards your goals? The fear surrounding this word has so much power over you it can stop you in your tracks. What if your life depended on it? Would you want to learn the power of failure and how to fail differently? The answer should be yes. If your not convinced I have news for you, your life truly depends on you learning to embrace and dissect failure.
When I was in BUD/s, I did not make it through without failure. As a matter of fact, I had more than one failure. A couple of posts back I wrote about how I failed a swim. That was a colossal failure, putting my swim buddy and me under the microscope. Failing the swim was not the only time I failed, in Dive phase during my first attempt of the final test I failed. It was a hard test already but to have to do it again within 20 minutes, unbelievable pressure.
Even in business, I have experienced my fair share of obstacles and failures. My wife and I owned a bike shop in San Diego, CA and for anyone that has a brick and mortar store, you know how difficult it can be. During that time, we tried to venture into the online bike shop realm. It was hard, all the technology, inventory and shipping made it a very demanding process. The demand of the online store started to take us away from the service aspects we were known for, and it began to hurt us. We could not balance both and had to take the online portion down from the shop. It was a hard blow, to say the least, we knew everything was going the way of online but did not have the capacity. It took the wind out of our sails.
During the last 4 years, I have been transitioning out of military mode. Honestly, when I got out of the military, I felt like a colossal failure. All the opportunity everyone talked about on the outside did not seem to line up, and everything seemed to be falling apart. After we had sold off the bike shop and I got out of the military, I continued to try business ventures. Some ventures were better than others.
But each and every step I took I learned something about myself and about what I was meant to do. In addition to these things I found myself getting closer and closer to my wife and kids. I also started to shed a lot of people out of my life that were holding me back. Furthermore, I realized there was a systematic approach to everything I was doing.
1. Do not Pout
There is work to be done still. The failure is still fresh and needs to be addressed. If you read No Challenge No Growth, then you know it highlights my first ever open ocean swim failure. After the swim attempt, I felt destroyed but determined. That is the key, you have to be determined and committed to resolving the issue. I think for most of us we stop at pouting and begin to negative self-talk. Stopping ourselves before we start.
It is easy for us to fall right back into a place of comfort, just get a job, get a paycheck, drive to work, drive home, eat and go to sleep. Easy. But you have stopped yourself from growing. All because you chose to let your negativity stop you from learning from your failure.
You have to be determined to find some kind of silver lining. There is always a silver lining, always. You have to be willing to say to yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Instead of “What the Hell was I thinking?” I hope you see the difference. If not, try saying both to yourself and out loud. You should fill one of the phrases open you up to solutions. The other shuts everything off and locks all the doors. But you have to truly believe it.
Throw “What the Hell was I thinking,” in the garbage and instead say “What can I learn from this?” and stop pouting.
2. Believe in yourself
Understand that you are human living an experience. You are given the choice of making decisions. When you are brought to an obstacle, you have a choice of how to answer the question. Whichever way you go believe it is the right choice at the time and move forward.
Life was not meant to be defined by anyone, life is defined by you and the choices you make. When you hit rock bottom, you can choose to look up or down. If you look down trust yourself and realize you made a choice. There is no one else to blame.
The initial question helps you start to believe in yourself. Say it now, “What can I learn from this?” Makes you feel good like there are possibilities right. But you have to believe you are going to figure it out and follow through.
When I failed my final test the first time in Dive phase. I could have rolled over and got kicked out. But I knew there was no other way but through the front door. I believed in myself enough to go through the process 20 minutes later and pass. Everyone is capable of these types of outcomes you just have to accept it.
3. Find the Silver
There is a Silver Lining in every failure, obstacle, redirection, whatever you want to call it there is something there. But how do you find it? Remember the first step is asking yourself the question, “What can I learn from this?” Now you are open to finding it, and you will fill your mind, body, and soul searching for the answer.
Sometimes what you learn from a situation may not seem viable, but everything is building you up. When we had the bike shop, we wanted an online store, and make online sales, so we started to incorporate everything required. After some time we shut the online store down because we just could not support it. We asked ourselves the question, and from that question, I learned the answer was patients.
Patients, really? In my mind how was I going to utilize patients to make sales or increase revenue? Honestly, I just had to trust it, and before you know it, new customers started to roll in. But it was only after I asked myself the question and found the silver. I failed differently. Instead of saying I failed and forget everything I did, burn it to the ground. I took the lesson, was patient, I refocused on our target customer and started to attract them.
Sure, I was frustrated but decided to trust the process, and it paid off eventually selling the company.
4. Take it forward
When you fail differently, it is essential you take what you have learned and move forward with it. Failure does not define you it helps shape your decisions and gives you experience. Ask anyone that has done anything in their life, there is a point in time when they failed. What they move forward with from that experience will define their experiences going forward.
I took patients forward with me and found it has saved me money, time, my life, and a whole lot of effort. I am not opposed to an opportunity until I have heard everything I need to hear. But patients has taught me to keep my ears open and my mouth shut. Acting when all the information has been given.
Patients was a hard lesson for me since I like to go 1000% into things. I realize now that taking the lessons with me has saved me from diversifying my 1000% into things that do not deserve the diversification.
Furthermore, why ask yourself the question if you are unwilling to fail differently and take your lessons forward.
The whole point of failing differently is to frame your mind differently. Find the answer and continue to utilize that answer. If you were going through your expenses and found that the night out cost, you more then you wanted to spend. You would probably not want to do that again, so you remember that and move forward.
It is the same thing, you failed. Get over it. Start to fail differently and learn. Moving forward with your lessons learned will progress you forward beyond what you thought possible. You just have to be willing to do the work and believe in yourself.
Start to fail differently, take action right now and analyze a failure. Be confident enough to revisit the failure and find the answer. No more hesitation. I know you will benefit from this exercise.