The Dirty Little Secrets About Failure
As someone who is looking to make their mark, make a difference, live true to their potential or make their impact in the world, then it’s likely you’ve faced the ‘F’ word at some stage:
At Live Your Legend we are all about taking action on your ideas, dreams, passions and making real progress, no matter how small and incremental. And as long as you are courageous enough to get out of your head and into momentum (i.e. take action) then soon enough you will encounter things not working out as you expected:
- You will write a blog post and no one will comment
- Someone will say ‘no thanks’ to an offer you make
- No one shows up to an event you host
- Only your Dad and your cat subscribe to your newsletter
- Someone tells you you’re crazy for the idea you have
- You receive less than ideal feedback on a service or product you created
- The list goes on…
In 2014 we had plans to host an big and exciting event in Australia. We had visions of 1,200 people coming together to talk all things passion and difference making. We scoped out venues, we created a rough program, drafted a sales page, promoted it, and even started inviting big name speakers.
Except there was one small (BIG!) problem. We didn’t sell more than a handful of tickets and we were looking down the barrel of thousands of dollars invested. So we pushed even harder and created personalized videos inviting people from all over the world. But aside from the handful of people, person after person politely replied ‘No thank you’.
We couldn’t figure it out… surely there was an appetite for this kind of live event in Australia! Surely we could get people onboard for a ‘first of it’s kind’ event? What the hell is wrong with people?!
But in the end, we did what we never thought we’d have to do: we cancelled the event, refunded the handful of tickets, communicated to people that it was off, and generally felt pretty disappointed and frustrated by the lack of response to something we were so invested in.
It was a huge blow. We had failed fast. Or had we…?
Failure is a Dirty Word
Failure is a dirty word in our society. And very few want to talk about it.
Why? Because we immediately associate it with who we are and it hits us where it hurts – our ego.
I am a failure. I am not good enough. I suck at this. I messed the whole thing up. It’s all my fault.
As humans, we immediately and often very automatically make failure very personal to us. We collapse who we are with what we do (or don’t do), and what we have (or don’t have).
Except it’s simply not true. Saying ‘I failed’ or ‘I am a failure’ is simply a way you keep yourself playing safe and small. It’s a trick your brain plays on you to make sure you quit and get comfortable again.
You might say things to yourself like:
- ‘I knew this was a bad idea’
- ‘See, I told you you’d mess it up’
- ‘This whole passion thing is too much hard work, it’s unrealistic.’
And this keeps your ego very happy as it starts to convince you that moving outside of your comfort zone is too risky. So, you give up on your dream/s and head back to your ordinary existence.
You see, our minds hate us being uncomfortable, thinking differently or breaking through challenges. Because as Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now:
The mind IS resistance.
But there is a the dirty little secret about failure that your mind doesn’t want you to know… It doesn’t actually exist.
What is Failure?
So if failure doesn’t exist, what is that experience of things not working out? Well, when something doesn’t work out, all you have is feedback of information.
Failure is Feedback, Nothing More
No success, no failure. No winning. No losing. Just information.
The real power comes from what you choose to do with that information.
For example, does it :
- Take you out of the game?
- Help you improve something?
- Save you thousands of dollars?
- Refocus your intention?
- Result in you putting something on hold?
- Enable you to learn what works and doesn’t work?
The Danger of Expectations
The only reason that we experience this thing called ‘failure’ is that we have an expectation of how something should go in the first place.
And the only thing expectations are good for is creating disappointment…
We expected to sell out our event in Australia. We expected people would say ‘hell yes!’ and we expected everything to take off. So of course when it did not, we were left with disappointment and an experience of failure.
What expectations are you holding in mind as you create magic in the world? And how are those expectations serving you (or not)?
Reframing Failure & Asking Better Questions
So, given that we are all likely to face some kind of setback as we strive to do something that matters, how do we start to reframe this idea of failure and drop our expectations so that we can be propelled forward, instead of throwing in the towel?
Here are some simple steps to get you on your way:
1. Drop expectations & create a powerful intention
Expectations are not in service of us. But you might be left asking ‘What about goals and big visions? I don’t want to let those go! Instead of creating expectations, get clear on your intentions.
For example, your intention could be: ‘To share my message in the best way I know how’ or ‘To get clear on my passion’ or ‘To connect with like-minded people’. There are many different ways to achieve these intentions!
2. Remind yourself that there is no failure, only feedback of information
Once your expectations have been released, now you are open to receiving all information. To help you sift through this information effectively, see Step 3.
3. Ask yourself (and answer) some powerful questions
What didn’t work about this? What can I change and adjust to improve it? What information do I have to better understand why this didn’t work? Who can I ask who will tell me the truth? What worked well about my effort and intention? Is this something that I want, but nobody currently needs? Does this project just need to go on hold and could I try again later?
4. Take what works & adjust your aim
Based on the answers to the above questions, you can now make some important decisions to move forward. For us, we decided that for our event, it simply wasn’t the right time to host it and that we should wait longer and test it out again the following year.
What decision can you make based on the information? Which information will you take on board and which will you leave behind? Make some decisions and move forward.
There is No Failure, Only Feedback
So, while you might have heard of lots of stories about people trying something out and failing or how they failed umpteen number of times before they got a break, it’s less about overcoming ‘failure’ and more about their effective use of the feedback of information.
Because while the rest of us were mourning our ‘failures’, they were busy refining, learning and testing…
What information have you missed along the way? And what information are you currently being fed from your peers, community, mentors or clients that could help you refine, adjust or improve what you are doing?
Let us know in the comments what your experience of ‘failure’ has been? How has it impacted you? And what are some key questions you can ask yourself in the face of things working out or not working out?
– Leah & Naz 🙂
P.S. If you haven’t heard, we’ve got a very exciting new course coming out for those of you who know you aren’t happy where you are, but feel like you have no idea what your ‘passion’ is. Click here to be the first to know about our 21 Day step-by-step guided course to help you Discover Your Passion!