Of all the obstacles on the road to success, the fear of failure is the greatest. It doesn’t help that our society looks at any failure as the result of a lack of character or personal deficiency. Each time you attempt to achieve greatly you run the risk of falling short, experiencing embarrassment, and doubting yourself.
As a result, there is a lot of cultural avoidance on the subject of failure that trains people to avoid it at all cost. The problem with avoiding failure is that it makes you avoid the very thing that will help you grow and achieve your dreams.
Failure is a critical component to your greatest success but only if you have the right mindset. Failure isn’t fatal but instead offers you valuable lessons on the way to achieving your goals.
Here are 3 ways failure helps you succeed:
1. It keeps you growing
Having the right mindset in the face of a setback will determine whether allow it to keep you stuck or grow past it.
Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, writes about the importance of having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. Fixed-mindsets held by an individual reveal a stagnant way of thinking. That there performance is just stuck at a certain level and lower standards are then accepted. A growth-mindset comes from the position that your condition can be improved by focused effort and incremental improvement.
A tool that you can use to help you build a growth-mindset is the SWOT analysis method. SWOT analysis is an acronym for a structured planning method that stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats”.
If your goal is to get in terrific shape and then lower your bodyfat from 18% to 12% or lower but your progress is getting stalled then use SWOT to help. Your strengths may be that you’re physically, very strong but your weakness is that you don’t like cardio training so you avoid it.
You then look opportunities to support your goals that emphasize your strengths like high-intensity weight training, to burn up calories without the need for cardio. However, future threats like mental burnout are possible so make plans in advance to periodically change up your workout routine to avoid burnout.
SWOT can be used for personal, career, or business goals as long as you remain honest about your strengths and weaknesses and apply all four steps. Skipping a step is like cutting off one of the legs of a chair. Eliminate one, the chair becomes wobbly, skip two steps then the chair falls over. Bottom line, don’t skip steps or you’ll end up cheating yourself.
“You won’t believe what you can accomplish by attempting the impossible with the courage to repeatedly fail better.” – Tim Ferriss
2. It refocuses your efforts
Arnold Schwarzenegger burst onto the bodybuilding scene in Europe winning every contest he entered. But, he soon lost a contest to a contestant who had a smaller physique compared to Arnold’s. Schwarzenegger later commented that it was one of the only times he ever cried in his life because he truly thought he was the better bodybuilder.
Soon, he refocused and reviewed the results of the contest. Studying photos and talking with judges, he realized the tides were shifting.
The sport had changed from empathizing sheer size to a more defined, muscular physique. He then adopted new training methods to help him continue to grow his body but refine it at the same time.
When he emerged, he made a quantum leap in improvement that redefined the standard for the sport. He went on to win contest after contest including the coveted Mr. Olympia title multiple times. He later took this approach and applied it to business, becoming a best-selling author, real estate investment, and becoming a major Hollywood action star and eventually claiming the governorship of California.
Going back and refocusing on the lessons learned from that failure set him up to succeed wildly in the years to come.
3. You learn to set yourself up to win
When my son was around 5-years old I had taken him to a park where he noticed some teenage kids playing basketball. I could tell he was enthralled at them playing the game. I asked him if he would like to play but he began to withdraw dropping his gaze and looking dejected.
Performing at such a high level was beyond his current experience and well beyond his comfort zone. His fear of failure had already begun to limit what he thought he was capable of causing him to quit before he ever tried.
To help, I bought a small basketball hoop and stand that stood around 5 feet off the ground as well a smaller basketball that he could handle. On his first day of practice with me he was still hesitant. I told him to just give it a try and shoot the ball but he was still afraid. After he did that for a few times, he was willing to shoot the ball acting more bold with each attempt.
My son is 11 now and still a big basketball fan. He plays in the park with the bigger kids and though he is smaller than most of the kids he plays with he holds his own and gets better with every game.
In life, the standard which we judge ourselves as successful can often be too high. Consequently, we never set ourselves up for the small wins that lead to the bigger, more satisfying wins.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
Society has set a standard that a person’s failures define them as a failure. This is unfortunate because failure isn’t something to be avoided but embraced.
Just beyond your comfort zone lies the place where you reach the upper limits of your performance and ability. Victories may be small but they keep you moving forward to becoming more capable and, ultimately, achieving your dreams.
How has failure helped you succeed? Please leave your thoughts below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
3 Ways to Optimize Your Life for Success
Welcome to the 21st Century! The era of the Internet and computers, lack of focus and superficiality. I know it sounds scary, maybe a little more exaggerated, but it’s true. We live in a world of short posts and 3-minute videos. We barely engage in deep learning, deep thinking, and deep focus to produce iPhone-level products or services. So, the majority of us are actually a failure, thousands of miles away from achieving our life goals and business visions. How do we turn things around? We need to optimize our lives.
Here are 3 tried and tested tips that will help optimize your life for success:
1. Upgrade your sleep
When I started my freelance writing career—about seven years ago—I was passionate and excited at the beginning. I’d fill my To-Do list with 6-10 items, worked until 12 am, set my alarm to go off at 3 am, and had my running shoes close to my bed before I went to sleep. However, I barely accomplished anything. I usually became weak and bored before noon.
I noticed that I was putting a huge strain on myself. I was sleep deprived, which is the primary reason why I didn’t have the energy and the drive to accomplish my tasks. Many studies have shown that sleep-deprivation affects productivity.
As soon as I began increasing my sleeping time from 4 hours to 7 hours, my whole life changed. I started producing a lot and earning a lot more than before while also improving my health. With more sleep, I get the emotional energy and willpower I need to read, learn, and optimize my career.
“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.” – Arianna Huffington
2. Read every day
I get it. You’re in the middle-class struggling to survive. You simply have enough to deal with. Reading? That’s not included on your to-do list. Well, if that’s you, then you’re not alone. The global literacy rates are at an all-time high at 84 percent, which means people don’t read as much anymore.
We already have enough on our plates. In fact, a study by the National Endowment for the Arts has found that the reading culture among American adults has drastically declined. That’s a big issue in our world.
Nothing can prevent you from reading, not even your plate that’s chock-full of other life’s priorities. If you want to produce more and impact the world around you, you’ve got to read more and learn more.
Take a look at the visionaries and business titans in our world. All of them are avid readers and avid learners. Bill Gates is a bibliophile and Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, reveres books. In fact, Knight customized his library to the extent that, before you enter into his library, you have to take off your shoes and bow.
So, what would you do next? Take Roald Dahl’s advice, captured in this beautiful line of the poem: “So please, oh please, we beg, we pray / go throw your TV set away / and in its place, you can install / a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”
3. Use Pomodoro to time yourself
You can’t go far in life if you can’t stay totally focused on a task. If you want to achieve your goals, you have got to stay laser-focused on a single task before jumping on to another. Why? Because goals are not achieved in one session, they’re achieved in a series of tasks, one after the other.
To install the focus habit in your system; therefore, you need to use a time-management kind of “system” that will keep you firm and attentive on a specific project. Pomodoro is that time-management tool that will help you stay focused.
It’s an excellent app that lets you set a timer for a particular task. You can set it for 30, 60, or 90 minutes and stop working when it goes off. I use it all the time, and I can’t imagine my work life without it.
“I know when I stay focused, good things will undoubtedly happen.” – Marc Trestman
Optimizing your life for more power, passion, and productivity is not about working hard late at night or running multiple projects at a time. It’s about maintaining your health and recharging your energy (having a deep, quality sleep), updating your knowledge (by reading every day), and staying focused on a project—until you accomplished it (by using Pomodoro technique to boost your concentration).
Of course, developing these sets of habits is not easy. You’ll fail and get frustrated, but as the productivity guru Robin Sharma beautifully puts it, “all changes are hard at first, messy at the middle, and beautiful at the end.”
Which one of these three ways to optimize your life resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts below!
If You Want Your Business to Grow, You Need to Increase Your Capacity in the Following 4 Areas
Every entrepreneur must come face to face with the reality that there is only a limited amount of time, money, and people that you can use within your current position. The question is how do we increase or maximize the things that we find limiting?
As we walk through our hectic and often over packed ten, twelve, or fourteen hour work days, one of the questions that we should be asking is “What can I do to get more, to do more?” Instead, we just put our heads down and plow through the ever growing mountain of work. We are limited by capacity.
Webster’s dictionary defines capacity as “the maximum amount that something can contain.” As an entrepreneur, we have to be a little more creative than the average person and find ways to increase our capacity.
Below, we’ll identify the four areas where we need more capacity and ways to get more with less:
Every human on this planet is granted twenty-four hours a day. That is it. Your capacity is a total of twenty-four hours. Within that amount of time you must manage several different demands. Our goal is to buy back our time, when we can, and operate at peak performance when we are accomplishing our daily task list.
First, without staying in performance shape, you will lose the ability to stay at optimal performance levels. Our bodies are truly a machine with an amazing capacity, but when it is abused by lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and lack of exercise, you are reducing the capacity at which you are able to work and function. The closer you are to peak performance, the more you are able to accomplish in a shorter amount of time.
Second is our mental condition. Here is what my experience has taught me. If I am mentally rested, I can think and make decisions faster because I can reason more quickly in addition to understanding the circumstances and information at an extremely fast pace.
When your brain is healthy, it becomes easier to absorb and process information at a lightning fast rate. Taking the time to allow your brain to rest will give it the ability to function at peak performance.
Third is our ability to train and delegate. So often, entrepreneurs are control freaks. No one can do it as good, as fast, or with the same passion as they can. While that may be true in most cases, you are only one person with twenty-four hours in a day.
You’ve got to delegate and accept people’s help. If you add one person that’s willing to give you eight hours of work a day, you have now bought back hours in your day to focus on activities that will generate more income and grow your business. Why wouldn’t you want to add more hours to your day by delegating out the appropriate task to qualified individuals?
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar
Money tends to be a sensitive topic. We all have beliefs that were formed through our childhood on the concept of money. With many different views and beliefs on this topic, let’s just focus on the fact that money is a tool that will either help grow the company or a tool that limits a company’s growth.
It is always amazing that the faster a company grows, the greater the challenge of money becomes, and this could potentially cause the company to implode on its own success. How do we then increase the capacity and have more money available to keep the company healthy?
Here are a couple of things to watch out for:
- Keep an eye on your budget and get accurate figures.
- Look at your Accounts Receivables. If they get too long, they could cause significant cash flow issues.
- Find investment opportunities. There are many private investors that are often willing to invest in companies that have true growth with solid foundations.
- Look at additional profit generators, products, or services that fit within your current business model.
Each of these are ways to increase the capacity that money contributes to the growth of your business.
3. Space and Supply
I will never forget exactly where I was standing when I had a manufacture call and tell me they were unable to supply anymore products. They had sold us everything they had, and they weren’t going to have anything available to sell for at least another six months. At that time, we were selling customer printed t-shirts and had tens of thousands of orders that we needed to fulfill within the next thirty days.
Space and Supply are tied closely together. Space is often associated with the production. Do you have a space large enough to meet the demands of the supply? If production can only create 1,000 products a day and buyers need 5,000 a day, there is a conflict.
A business needs to understand that challenge, and there are only 3 solutions to this problem: The business figures out how to increase production within the current workable hours, adds more workable hours with the equipment and space, or adds more equipment and space to increase production.
Space and supplies are assets that can be used towards the business advantage. Here are a few questions to ask when making decisions based on space and supply.
- Evaluate your supply channel. Are they able to maintain a solid supply of your raw product materials to match your growth as a company?
- Are there back up supply manufactures that can create a safety net for your raw products?
- Evaluate the amount of space you have available along with the time the space is usable. Can you run a second or third shift with the current space and equipment?
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Your employees are likely going to be the most important way to create more capacity. We talked briefly about delegating to qualified individuals to increase capacity around your own personal time. The next phase is to create more capacity by adding additional, trained people.
You need to create leaders of leaders instead of you being the leader of followers. Don’t miss this because the greatest of all companies focuses on increasing their capacity by training leaders of leaders and not just a loyal following.
Entrepreneurs tend to be a lonely bunch of souls. Too often, we are misunderstood and looked at with slight amount of annoyance. Others just don’t always know how to take someone that is passionately thinking outside the box.
People skills are a must in order to have more than just yourself work to achieve that dream. As an entrepreneur, develop the social skills to work with individuals that are different than yourself.
Here is a 3 step plan to have great capacity with people as your allies:
- Start by learning how to delegate your own tasks to buy back your time. Identify the tasks that are easiest to delegate and document how you do them. This will give you a specific job description, set achievable goals, and create a daily action plan that is now something that is teachable.
- Use this system and apply it to the other things you are currently doing. I would suggest building out an organization chart and dividing the different tasks you do within the company. Then create a plan that will allow you to hire the right person and move you onto the next area in the organization that you will systematize.
- Finally, create the culture. Culture is like a child, it will grow whether or not you pay attention to it. So be intentional. Learn what it takes to build a culture that attracts the employees that want to be there and grow with the company.
Each of these four areas has an incredible amount of potential to increase your capacity, and allow your business to grow. Don’t attempt to tackle everything at once. Identify just one area that you will commit to grow within the next three to six months. Take action and implement.
What is your next step? Share with us below!
The Importance of Failure: Why We Should Fail Forward
What Is failing forward? Will Smith said it best in a viral Instagram video that engaged the world. “You’ve gotta take a shot, you have to live at the edge of your capabilities. You gotta live where you’re almost certain you’re going to fail. Failure actually helps you to recognize the areas where you need to evolve. So fail early, fail often, fail forward.”
Failing forward is about using leverage on your mistakes and making a realistic assessment of the risks involved. It’s your ability to live with the downside, control your emotions and experiment with new approaches. When we fail forward, we need to look at the reason why we fail and understand that it’s all part of the process of achievement.
Here are 4 Reasons Why We Fail:
1. We Are Too Distracted
Distractions are everywhere. They can take us off course and could make it impossible to keep our mind on our goal or purpose. It’s important to be selective, strategic and supportive in our distractions. We all control certain aspects of our day, so be selective and prioritise tasks that are in line with your goals.
We should be strategic by understanding when we work best. Personally, I write more efficiently in the early mornings and late evenings. So that’s what I stick to. Try different things and see when you are least distracted. You’ll then be able to be supportive and generous with your time. Being supportive of others costs us little and drives our own success whilst boosting our health and happiness.
2. Lack of Self Belief
Lack of self belief runs differently from person to person. Our experiences, childhood history, genes, culture and life circumstances play a part in our self confidence. The truth is, we can’t alter the experiences that our past has given us. What we can do though, is change our thoughts to gain more belief in ourselves. Ways to increase our self-belief is to find out more about ourselves. We can do this by taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally. Giving ourselves a healthy support system and understanding our emotions are just a couple of ways to practice self-belief.
3. Fear of Failure
Failure often induces fear. When we fear failure, we allow ourselves to stop doing the things that can help us achieve our goals, help us move forward and open up possibilities we never thought were possible. We should have faith in ourselves and start to shift our inner dialogue from ‘not good enough’ to ‘more than enough’. If our inner critic takes the lead on self talk, then it’s more than likely we aren’t feeling good enough. It’s important to surround ourselves with positive people and positive thoughts.
Procrastination is a common reason for failure. It’s delaying or putting off a task or action to attend to at a later time. Procrastination is essentially giving in, to feel good. We prefer avoiding negative emotions and stressful tasks, which are the very things we procrastinate about. The first step to overcoming procrastination is recognising we do it.
We then need to understand why we do it and use appropriate strategies to prevent it from happening. We may not know that we are procrastinating and this can be damaging to reaching our full potential. With a solid understanding, we can get to the core of our reasons and make positive changes to fail forward.
Now that you know why we fail, here are the 3 ways you can fail forward:
1. Take Risks
When risks are taken, we generally overestimate the chances of something going wrong. What we focus on tends to magnify in our imagination and in return, causes us to misjudge an outcome of a situation. The reality is, the likelihood is often a far better return than we imagine it out to be. To take risks, we should not be afraid of failure.
2. Understanding Failure Should Be Your Motivation
It may sound comical but, be happy when you fail. We’ve been taught to believe that when we fail it’s because of bad attempts, bad judgment and bad luck at improving our lives. For example, we link failure with the colour red (to stop) and success with the colour green (to keep going). In reality, we are stronger and more courageous when we fail. It’s a sign of improvement, so we should recognise that failure is growth and if we’re not making mistakes, we are not really trying. Use failure as motivation and keep going.
Perseverance is the ability to recover from failure. Your chances of success is also dependent on your persistence and your willingness to persevere. You have two options when you fail: Become self-defeated or become resilient and encouraged. Perseverance requires a goal, a passion and patience. It’s important to set your own pace when persevering and not comparing your failures to others. In doing this, when we fail forward, we are more in tune with ourselves and more controlled with new approaches.
“Recognize that you will spend much of your life making mistakes. If you can take action and keep making mistakes, you gain experience.” – John C. Maxwell
Think of it this way. When we’re at the gym pushing ourselves in the weight room, the trainer would yell “One more rep!”. Our trainer wants us to succeed, but also wants us to fail. They want us to be uncomfortable to the point where our muscles fatigue. Why? Because of muscle adaptation. That’s where our muscle growth comes from. It’s the ability to learn how to get comfortable being uncomfortable. This concept doesn’t just apply physically within our muscles, it applies mentally and in our minds. In understanding this perspective, we can fail forward with more awareness and are in a better position to achieve success.
The Most Overlooked Element of Success (Spoiler Alert – It’s Not Mindset Nor Strategy)
It’s always important to have someone show you “the ropes” in the beginning stages in your business. When I started my own business venture two years ago, I hired numerous coaches and mentors across MULTIPLE disciplines to work on getting my business off the ground. Every coach with a different strategy and mindset technique to share, leaving me feeling like there’s no end to chasing for the “next best thing.”
Someone is always trying to give you their “Magic Pill”
You know the moment when you are desperate to start making money (and stop your savings from bleeding)? You click on a link that leads you to a sales page, that tells you the coach has “the best kept secret” or “the exact 7-step formula to start your business” – those of you who’ve been there know what I’m talking about.
You see, I had a weakness for that kind of copywriting. My heart would scream “Take my money and share your secret already!” Through pushing my own boundaries, implementing different strategies, and months after months of falling left, right and sideways – I realised strategy and mindset alone is not enough to get your career or business off the ground. You need the right conditions.
You can’t copy and paste success or failure. You need to have the right environment in order to gain traction and take things to the next level. I’m not referring to external conditions – because the best conditions that cannot be “ctrl+copy+pasted” from someone else’s success formula are allowing yourself to fail so many times that you become thick-skinned, so you no longer feel self conscious.
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”– John C. Maxwell
Imagine you’re trying to grow a beautiful garden of flowers. You’ve got all the items: landscaping tools, the instructions, the commitment and all the love and attention you can give to your garden. But wait a minute – you need the right conditions to be met. That’s when you need to look into temperature, amount of water, sunlight, pH of the soil, and pest control to make sure your flowers can flourish and blossom.
The same goes with your career and business. You need to have the right conditions in place, and create the perfect environment for yourself and your work to thrive. That’s why we need to take things one step further to close the gap that acts as a bridge from where you are to where you need to be.
We need to open up the dialogue to talk about how we can get more support as entrepreneurs, because it’s not written in the “Rulebook of Success.” We need to talk about the areas we may have overlooked that are just as important as Mindset & Strategy.
It’s Time To Fill In The Gaps
I’m telling you, just the realisation itself blew my mind. Because having a thriving business is no longer just about following someone else’s “7-Step Formula” or a “blueprint” and hope that it works for you. It always makes me chuckle when people use that word, no one’s business is identical in my personal opinion. Neither is it about journaling your butt off.
In more practical terms, building your business upon the right conditions is about these following things, and so much more. It’s about not needing validation from other people but yourself. It’s about finding the right support community. It’s about going through the process of deep, inner work. It’s about fitting your life and business and fun and family into your schedule.
It’s about confronting all of your fears and having difficult conversations that you’ve put aside. It’s about cultivating experience and building thick skin from your failures (so, you can not fail even if you used someone else’s fool-proof method). Building a successful business is shedding your old identity and building a new one – all the while finding new people along the way that support your vision.
“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” – Zig Ziglar
Shower Love Onto Every Part of Your Business
Your success is built upon all the other things that happen in between and along the journey for every self-made person that no one told you about. Every element of non-business related strategy is a piece of the puzzle that shouldn’t be overlooked. That’s why I’m calling the intentional business owners and entrepreneurs forward – to focus your energy on plowing through every inch of your soil and give attention to things that are also “behind the scenes” – so that you can build a thriving empire upon a rich, fertilized foundation.
What part of this article resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts below!
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