The attitude most people have in the pursuit of their dream is, ‘I want to succeed but scared stiff of experiencing failure in the process.” We seem to be oblivious to the fact that even people with great achievements have had a fair share of disappointments and frustrations. What we are often exposed to are their accomplishments and brilliance. Most achievements, however, have a backstory of challenges, setbacks, and failures.
Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the greatest basketball of all time, was once quoted as saying, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It is not really hard to imagine how Michael would have felt every time he ‘failed.’ This is similar to what you experience when you drop the ball or when you fall short of realistic expectations, when everyone depends on you but you are unable to deliver the goods, when you struggle to lead your troupe to a much-needed victory, when your product launch fails miserably even after you thought you tied all the loose ends, when your ideas are perpetually consigned to the back burner because some perceive it is not market-ready, or when you face numerous rejection time and time again. In these moments, the attitude most needed is one that will help you keep your eyes fixed on the prize. Be determined to learn from your setback and start again on a wiser footing. Mark Cuban, Billionaire Entrepreneur, said, “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once.” Never allow the fear of failure to deter you from doing the hard yards. Failure is life’s way of giving you precious guidance to what is truly meaningful and fulfilling to you.
I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once.
Another favourite inspirational story is that of Steve Jobs being fired from the company he founded – Apple. Most people do not realise that before he returned to Apple to lead it to become one of the most profitable companies in the U.S., he founded and failed with NeXT computer company and the Lisa computer. Failure is not an indication that you are done with dreaming or your dream is not worth pursuing. Setback only means you have paid a price for a real-world learning, which you can mine for its gold in your next endeavour.
So what do you need to do to get comfortable with failure (learning) in other to succeed?
- Be focused: Regardless of what you are currently experiencing, remain locked into the vision of your dream. Challenges and setbacks may often make your vision to become blurry. Experience has shown that loss of focus and direction is the greatest killer of dreams. So always take time out to re-focus your vision. Learn to develop a laser-sharp focus and attention to making your dream a reality. Remind yourself of the service and value you are resolute to bring to the world. Don’t be bogged down by what others are or are not doing. Maintain focus and stay committed and true to the vision of your dreams. In time, you shall be celebrated.
- Refuse to be distracted: You cannot do big things if you are distracted by small things. Develop a system that will remind you of what is truly important. Starve your distraction, and feed your focus. What you feed grows.
- Engage daily commitment: Have a daily commitment to completing a task/activity that will propel you in the direction of making real what you have conceptualised. Be invested in the realisation of your dream more than the doubts and the fears of spectators and armchairs critics. Be unrelenting in the commitment to excellence. Tony Robbins once remarked, “The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.”
Don’t allow the fear of failure to keep you from taking action. Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory or defeat (Theodore Roosevelt). Remember, failure is success if we learn from it.