Failure is a powerful word. It’s hard not to be triggered in some way when we hear it being mentioned.
What is it about the word failure that makes it so powerful?
Some of the reasons may include:
- Success is much better than failure.
- Failure implies we didn’t achieve something we wanted.
- Failure has a stigma or negative connotation to it.
- Failure implies we weren’t good enough in some way.
- Failure can be mentally, emotionally and physically damaging to us.
We’ve all experienced some type of failure in life. What if we can reframe failure to our advantage?
I’m reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
My belief is everything is a learning experience and we only fail when we quit on something that’s still meaningful or important to us.
From an early age, we’re told that in order to be successful in life, we have to work hard, which often gets interpreted as working long hours.
We hear people say they’ve been “burning the midnight oil” or “doing an all-nighter” in order to achieve a particular outcome.
There is value in having a strong work ethic and doing what’s required to get to where we want to be, but there also has to be a certain level of intelligence as to how we go about it. Working long hours doesn’t always equate to how much we actually get done.
Have you ever been in a situation where you know you’re about to go on a holiday and you have certain things that must get done before you leave? What usually tends to happen?
Oftentimes, the last couple of days before we leave is when we get the most done because we have an unmovable deadline. We somehow manage to become so productive and get things done.
If we can be so productive being we leave for a holiday, it means we have the capability to do that whenever we want. It also means we have to question the need to work long hours consistently.
Working long hours does not always result in us doing our best work.
As we get older, we tend to adopt beliefs based on the events in our lives and the experiences we’ve had. Those beliefs can either help or hinder us.
Have you ever changed your point of view about something, that at one time you had a different belief about it?
One belief I had was, in order to be successful in life, I needed to have the right qualifications and be highly educated. As I have gotten older, I have learned that most things are learnable and trainable.
If there is something we want to do or achieve in life, being committed to it and doing what’s required is far more important than just having some kind of qualification, which doesn’t always translate into actual results.
A number of years ago, I did some training development work for an organisation and was part of a team that had a few contractors. Within a few months of me being in that team, a member decided to move on and took up a different role within the same organisation.
I remember at that time, there was a lot of discussion whether it was a good decision or not. One member of the team said, “The pasture is not always greener on the other side.”
That statement revealed a belief that particular team member had about opportunities and how they viewed the world.
We’ve heard the saying, “Life is short,” yet how many people do you know who live their lives to the fullest?
Our lives often becomes about making a living or meeting our responsibilities, rather than living the life we really want. We buy into our stories as to why we cannot do the things we want to in life, which can affect our mental, emotional and physical states.
From my experience coaching and mentoring people, the majority of people are not doing what they really want to. They’ve often settled for a career or a business that makes them a living, even if it does not bring them joy, rather than choosing to do something that excites them or something they’re passionate about.
One question I often ask people is, “If you were told you had six months to live and you had the same abilities or capabilities as you have today, what would you choose to do?”
There isn’t a right or wrong answer. The objective is to get people to really think about what they’re doing with their lives. Most people will respond by saying, “I’d spend more time with my family and loved ones” or “I’d travel more” or “I’d would do community work.”
The question I often then ask is, “Why aren’t you doing those things now?”
This is when I start to hear the real reasons that prevent people from living the life they want.
As human beings, we love to feel comfortable. Whenever we experience something that’s uncomfortable, it can generate a range of unpleasant emotions.
To even suggest that being uncomfortable can be a good thing may bring up a lot of resistance. We feel better when we’re comfortable. We all have a natural state or a comfort zone, in which we know we can cope with the demands of our lives.
The truth is resistance is what makes us stronger. If we reflect back on our life experiences, we learned more from our struggles rather than from our successes.
We strengthen a physical muscle by putting it under stress, which will allow it to increase how much resistance it can handle. Similarly, our capacity to cope with more things in our lives is developed by putting ourselves in situations which will cause us to grow stronger.
Things to Be Aware of About Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
- It’s not something that will get easier quickly. It will take time therefore, consistent action is the key to maintaining progress.
- Fear and doubt will always be present. It’s up to us to acknowledge what we’re feeling and continue taking action to move past our fears or doubts.
- Having someone like a mentor or a coach can be helpful if we’re trying to raise our comfort zone.
The good news is that even though we may feel uncomfortable when doing something that’s challenging us, we will always learn valuable lessons.
Our attitude determines our experience of life. If we have a healthy, positive attitude, we’ll be able to cope better when things are not going our way.
If we have a cynical, negative attitude, we’ll find ourselves struggling to deal with our challenges and make the changes necessary in order to get the results we want.
This quote from “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl emphasises the importance of our attitude. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
What is Attitude?
Before we can change something, we must know what we are dealing with first. In order to change our attitude, we need to understand what it means.
The best definition of attitude I have learned is that it’s the composite of our:
- Feelings, and
These three ingredients make up what we call our attitude. In order to change our attitude, we have to be aware of how we are operating at these three levels.
The quality of our lives is directly related to the quality of our relationships. The better our relationships, the better our lives will be.
If our relationships are mentally and emotionally exhausting, we won’t be at our best consistently. Some people can mask what’s really going on in their personal or professional relationships, but it often comes at a cost, which may include:
- Experiencing high levels of stress, worry and anxiety.
- Feeling physically tired often.
- Not being able to sleep well at night.
- Displaying behaviour that is uncharacteristic.
- Not being willing to take new risks.
The people we have in our lives affect us in many ways, therefore it’s important we take steps to make sure we are spending time with the right people.
Our habits can either lift us up or bring us down. If we have empowering habits, we’ll create better experiences and results in life.
Likewise, if we have disempowering or toxic habits, they can affect our lives and those around us in a detrimental way.
As most things we do are habitual, it’s makes sense to be more aware of which habits may be affecting us in a negative way.
5 Consequences of Having Toxic Habits
- Poor overall health.
- Lower levels of confidence, drive and motivation.
- Unhealthy or estranged relationships.
- Slower progress towards goals.
- Less willingness to take new risks or try new things.
The more toxic habits we can replace with empowering habits, the better our lives will be.
There is something great about each one of us. The fact that we were born suggests there is something special and unique we have to offer.
It’s quite incredible that even though there are over seven billion people in the world, everyone is different. Even so-called identical twins are different even though there may have a lot of physical similarities.
The reality is most people are disconnected from what makes them great. Our early life programming, experiences and environments has a major influence on what we believe to be true about ourselves, which in turn, affects the choices we make in life.
When we’re disconnected from what makes us great, we:
- Go through life not being true to ourselves.
- Settle for a life we have rather than design a life we want.
- Don’t feel our best consistently.
- Tend to do things we’re expected to do rather than what we’re passionate about.
- Don’t make any significant difference in other people’s lives or the world.
I once heard a mentor say that a graveyard is the most valuable place on earth. This is because within the graves lie dreams that were not followed, ideas that were not implemented or decisions that were not made. People tend to die with their music still within them.
If we don’t want to live a life of regret, we have to connect to what makes us special and unique — our greatness.
There is a saying, “The older we get, the wiser we become.” Have you experienced your priorities changing as you’ve gotten older, and hopefully, much wiser?
I know when I was in my early twenties, fresh out of university, having career success was something I thought was important. Also, acquiring material things was something I also pursued, but as I have gotten older, it has become less and less important.
Why Does Our Priorities Change?
What causes us to change what we believe to be important as we get older?
One explanation could be that as we start achieving the things we think we want, we find that we are not satisfied or happy as we thought we would be.
If we do the things we do in order to feel happy, and if we don’t feel the happiness we thought we would, it makes us question what is truly important in life.
This may be a reason why we hear of middle-aged and older people making big changes in their lives because what they were doing previously was not making them happy.
Rather than wait till we’re much older, wouldn’t it makes sense to pay more attention now to what will matter more later in life? We can either be making a living or designing a life.