Dealing With Failure

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Welcome back. This week we’re going to talk about dealing with failure and how our mind perceives it. Most people either don’t believe they will have a failure in their life, or deny that they could fail at something they are trying to accomplish. Failure is commonplace. Let’s be honest about it. Failure happens way more than success. What we do is we see people who have success and then develop a mindset that success is the norm when it’s not. We judge our insides by someone else’s outsides and assume that all we have to do is show up and we’ll be successful. 

What I want us to see is that failure is inevitable. Every success came from people who rebuilt after dealing with failures. Look at all the corporations that have closed over the last year. Franchises that went out of business. A failure is not the end of the road. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a setback if you have the right perspective. How we perceive the setback determines how we recover from it and how we approach our next opportunity.

 At some point in time, everyone is going to fail. The problem starts when we look at failure as the end of the road. Marriages fail, businesses fail, books don’t get published, weight comes back, and jobs are lost. These things happen, but none of them have to be the end of the road. 

So what are some ways we can look at a perceived failure differently

Change the way we think and act

Michael Bentt Is the most decorated amateur boxer in American history to never go to the Olympics. you see Michael Bentt had a habit of overreacting. His parents were Jamaican, so he could have gone with a Jamaican team, but he refused to give up his US citizenship to fight for the Jamaican team. He could have gone for the US team, but he was only going to be an alternate, so he refused to go then as well.

 Michael Bentt turned Pro and lost his first professional fight by being knocked out in the first round. So he did what any reasonable person would do and walked away from boxing for over 20 months. After his hiatus, he came back and became Evander Holyfield’s sparring partner. He got picked up by a new promoter and after just 10 fights, Michael was challenging for the HeavyWeight Championship of the World. That’s actually a stretch, he was supposed to be a warm-up fight, but he won. Knocking out Tommy Morrison In the first round. Then, another strange turn happened in Michael’s life. The first time he went to defend the title, he was beaten so badly that he had to go to the hospital and the doctors told him he could never fight again or he would suffer permanent brain damage. Talk about dealing with failure.

After some inner contemplation, Michael knew all along he didn’t want to fight. He never wanted to fight. That was his father’s dream, and he used Michael to fulfill his dream. Michael started taking classes in writing and was asked to write an article for a magazine about his experience of being knocked out. From that article came other opportunities. He became a boxing coach for movies and an actor and director. He has appeared in several movies and directed a couple of plays. 

Michael had outstanding success and a huge public failure. For a boxer, getting knocked out was the worst failure that could happen. What he learned through the experience was that failure was not the end of the road. He learned to look at himself differently and realized he was more than a fighter. 

How do you view your successes and failures? Do you only see the times that you failed? Or do you also see the times you pulled it out in the end? Do you look for someone to blame, or do you look for why it happened?

A shift in your mindset is key to seeing yourself in a better light. I know affirmations have gotten a bad rap over time, but this isn’t the Stuart Smally I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! Self-talk. An article on the website Psych Central titled:

Do Positive Affirmations Work?

Says this.

Positive affirmations are a self-help method to build self-confidence and attract good things to your life.

They are simple statements that shift your mindset from negativity and self-criticism to positivity and focusing on your strengths. These statements can encourage and motivate you to develop skills, learn new things, and live a healthier life. ( National Library of Medicine)

They can also help you overcome self-doubt, fear, and self-sabotage and help you see the positive side of life.

But do affirmations work? They can, but they won’t make things magically occur. It involves shifting your mindset and working to achieve goals.

How do you talk to yourself? What do you say about the future? How you see yourself has a lot to do with how you talk to yourself. For some people, a negative self-image is a generational scar. If you can’t get over seeing yourself as a failure seeking help is an option. If you see yourself as a failure and not as a person who has failed, talking to a counselor can help you work through a negative self-image. None of us are abject failures. We all have different circumstances and different things that have happened in our lives. A good counselor can help you walk through your perceived failures and see them in a different light.

You are not a failure; you are just a human being who has had things happen. Don’t take failure personally. This can be the biggest turning point in whether you succeed or fail in whatever area you are reaching for. When you push the rewind button on your life and look at all the things you accomplished, do you see yourself as a success or failure? 

Learn to Survive in the Messy Middle

Success has to be worked for. The messy middle is the part where life happens. If you’re writing a book or making a film, you’ve got a beginning and you’ve got an end, but you’ve got to get there. The messy middle is where we connect the dash on our headstones. We live life in the messy middle and if we want to be successful at whatever we do; we have to learn to push through to get the results we want. This is why we quit going to the gym. Why we quit dieting. And why we stop writing the book we’ve planned for years. It’s also why we write the book and then don’t get it published. And why we never start doing a podcast. Life is Life, and it has to be lived. There are no shortcuts and no simple solutions. 

We have to put in the effort when the excitement is gone. That is where great success comes from. Practice and sticking around are what will get the book finished and the podcast more views. It gets the script written and pays dividends for our self worth. 

I have a friend who wrote a book 20 years ago, and a small publisher published it. Since then he has written several more books and numerous screen plays but none of them were picked up until recently. He is now working with a bigger publisher and is getting his original book republished. Now that is working in the messy middle. He never stopped believing and reaching out and trying to get his foot in the door, and it finally paid off. 

Go back to Michael Bentt. Michael’s life was split into two parts, the part where he was a fighter that he hated to begin with but became good at, and the part after the perceived failure where he’s found most of the success for his life. The second half is where he feels at home and where he’s living the life that he designed. But the thing about this is both halves had to be worked for. Nothing ever came easy. Michael had to train to be a fighter. Michael had to go back to school to be an actor.

Both halves of his life took years of training to get to. If you want to be successful in life, find something you love to do and learn to do it so well, people will pay you for it. This is the part where many people get tripped up because they may start out doing something and as they progress, they don’t want to do the work. There’s a reason we say practice makes perfect because practice makes us better at what we do. Even if you start a job at McDonald’s, you’re not going to be a manager on the first day. And I know some people think they should be the manager on the first day. God knows I’ve done that several times. But what we have to do is learn to work and learn the skills needed to be successful at whatever we choose.

Learn From The Failure

Since we established early on that we all fail at some point in time, we might as well learn from it when we do. This has a lot to do with what I was talking about in the messy middle. Look at James Dyson of Dyson vacuum cleaners. He tried over 5,000 different models before he got his vacuum cleaner that would hold suction when the filter was dirty. Or Thomas Edison, who had a thousand different light bulb prototypes before he found one that would stay lit long enough to make it viable for home use.

George Washington Carver came up with 300 different uses for peanuts. It’s a peanut who would ever think to try 300 different things with peanuts? And no, he didn’t invent peanut butter, which is the best peanut use I can think of.

You get my point.

A lot of times when we talk about people who are inventors or who have seen failure, we think, “Oh well, that’s good for them but not for me.” That’s not true. They’re just people. They’re normal average everyday people who just tried something different.

Johnny Cash said this about dealing with failure, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on them. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

Failure isn’t the end. There’s always something we can learn or there’s another way to try. The only failure is when we quit and don’t try again. 

Here are some things you can do and questions to ask when dealing with failure.

Reframe the failure. Look at it as a learning experience. Ask, “How can we look at it from a different way?” Then figure out what actually happened? Is it even a failure or can I pick up where I left off and keep going?

Look at each failure as growth. How can I grow from this?

Don’t blame others for the failure. Look at your part in it, then move on from it. It’s part of life. We don’t have to blame anyone for what happens.

Okay, that’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. If you like what you hear, please remember to subscribe and share this with your friends.

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