In order to find a different level of success than we’ve had before, we have to find a new relationship to failure. Most often, if you look at someone who is struggling to attain what they’d like in life, you’ll find they have a toxic relationship with failure. Fear of failure either shuts them down from trying, or it shuts them down after they experience failure itself. The key to this toxic relationship is a core misunderstanding as to what failure is. Failure is the greatest gift you will ever know. Why? Because it is only through failure that we find success. We cannot learn to tie our shoes or walk or talk or any of those skills without having tried and failed so many times.
Tony Robbins gives a wonderful example of this in teaching a child to walk. The kid falls and falls and fortunately the parents don’t say, “Okay, hey, you’ve fallen like 400 times, that’s it, no more trying to walk.” Nope. We keep trying to walk until we get it right. We do this with so many skills, but at some point in our lives, either through lack of support or own anxiety, we begin to stop before we find success. That stopping… that’s the only true failure. When things don’t go the way we’d like them, if we’re paying attention… that’s when we learn.
Any experienced competitor at a high level will agree, it’s the matches they’ve lost that they obsess over, and analyze. The wins… sure they’re great, but they don’t generate the same drive. So, when we can get comfortable with failure, shrug our shoulders and move on, that’s when we keep trying more often and more frequently, and that’s the engine of mastery.
Failure isn’t only inevitable, it’s necessary.
So why all this talk on failure? Because I failed! Yesterday I didn’t post. I didn’t do much of any of my success tasks either. One key was not meditating. This is the point where I would usually fall into my old habits until the pain they generate got big enough that I had to find motivation to cut the pain again. You see, over the past two weeks, as I’ve done this project, my emotional pain has faded. I’m happier. I’m sleeping far better. I’m enjoying my days… So I’m not reminded to meditate by negative thoughts, etc. Yesterday afternoon, however, I had an interaction with my ex-wife, who is quite toxic, and I reacted poorly by over thinking the interaction after the fact. Finally, I asked myself, why am I so caught up? It was then that I realized I hadn’t meditated.
So the core value in failure is found when we look right at it, own it (that’s key), and seek to learn from it. So what have I learned? I can’t be pain motivated. I have to be purpose motivated. That’s how to keep going when the pain ebbs away.