How easy is it for you to fail? It’s not easy for me. I have always worked hard not to, certainly not in public.
My Asperger’s Syndrome and dyslexia has taught me to make failure my friend. As a kid, I would try to look good – invariably I would screw up. For years it was devastating. Realizing that it wasn’t getting me any where I slowly began to accept failing. I began to see that failing was teaching me to be less concerned about failing and looking good.
I saw myself focusing more on succeeding rather than avoiding failing. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel the pull of not wanting to make a fool of myself but that shift in focus to how to succeed as opposed to how not to fail, although subtle, was huge!
Like the example in this Lifehacker post on The More You Fail, The Higher You Can Set Your Goals I began going for getting the failure part over sooner. I started being the first to volunteer even when I knew others were better than me. It gave me the sense of accomplishment for being the first to step up along with the respect of others for risking it. Usually others were better, but no one else was first. I could relax and be more present; I wasn’t feeling the fear of anticipation. Each time I took a risk, fear of failure became weaker.
How to use failure to succeed
- Make a list of what you want.
- For each item, break it down into the steps it will take to achieve that goal.
- Choose the top three most fearful goals. (Even if these goals aren’t the most critical for your success, they may be the ones creating the blocks to achieving your success.)
- Find a way to fail at these goals… a way to risk not getting it, doing it right or just not looking good – that is not critical. Go out and do a few beta tests or warm ups.
- Get the failure block out of your system.
- Once you have failed few times, up the ante.
- Either your will be less paralyzed by the fear of failure or you will be succeeding. Either way, you are well on your way to achieving your goals.
- Remember, doing this is not about succeeding in the short term. It is about desensitizing yourself around your fear of failure.
Let’s say you want to start dating – but asking women out freezes you with fear. Create your list. What do you want? Do you want to date, do you want a relationship – set your goal. Let’s assume you want to date.
To date you need to get a date which means you need to ask a woman. To do that you need to know a woman to ask. Assuming you don’t have a woman to ask, you need to have a plan to meet women. Summer is coming so look at what activities you enjoy that are outside. Choose one. Create a way to use that activity to meet and interact with women. Maybe you join a hiking club. Go out on the hikes with just the intent of speaking to women with no outcome other than speaking to them. Plan on being nervous and not being your best; just do it.
As you ‘fail’ keep speaking. Speak to them as if you are speaking to your sister’s friends. Keep practicing. You get the idea.
Recently in one of our men’s groups we evolved to discussing how our failures prevent us from future success. Past failures can anchor into your beliefs that you will fail in the future. You can erase those beliefs by succeeding or you can erase them by not giving them any power. I don’t mean using your mind to tell you that you aren’t afraid – that won’t work.
You change the hold failure has on you by desensitizing it – by taking failure’s power away. Going out with the intent of failing lets living takes failure’s power away.
I’m a guy. I know how hard it is for you to fail. I am just saying do it intentionally. Make it a game. You can make it a contest with your friends – who can fail the most in a week. I am willing to bet, the man who fails the most will be the man who succeeds first. He is not only taking more action, he is reducing his fear of failure, or his pride around looking good.
He is that salesman who might not be the best closer, but he knocked on more doors so he makes more sales. I have a client who claims his success in law school and beyond was not being the ‘smartest man in the room’; it was being the most persistent.
What can you fail at so you can succeed?