Will failure define you or propel you?

The Internet is full of people talking about failure. Whereas some use the term fail often or even fail more, others seem to resent the term failure as some kind of weakness or a sign people accept that it is okay to fail.

Now although I understand where both sides are coming from I feel the focus is in the wrong area. I have personally experienced both sides of this coin first hand when working around the world.

In my career, I worked for American companies on global teams and handled the Middle East region where the thinking around failure was simply a learning process, a stepping stone if, and this is the main point; if you acquired experience or bounced back from failure stronger. People admired this or celebrated your achievement and strength. In the UK however, things are very different.

In the UK people get very nervous if you say you had any failure in your career. Whether this was a business or a position you may have held, it is shunned and brushed under the carpet as if that experience defines you as a person, as in you are a failure! This is regardless of what you achieved after that experience.

I have, like everyone, had very dark moments in my personal and professional life and although they were frightening and even life-threatening at times I can tell you the person I came out the other side of each one of these moments is a stronger, more knowledgeable and experienced individual. These moments are not something you can learn on a course or in a book you have to go through them to gain experience that you have to use in the next part of your life. Failure is a single moment, something that is temporary if you have the right attitude or defeat if you allow it.

And this really is the key for me regarding failure, it is not whether a failure is something that should be shunned, hidden or even celebrated. It is the action that follows failure that is what defines us, it is what we do with that experience, hurt and even pain after a failure that is where the whole discussion should be focused. Because after failure, you have a choice to either believe you have a limit of what you can achieve in this life, or you learn from the experience and use it to propel yourself to greatness!

The only thing that can stop you..is you.

There is a battle that resides inside you no matter what you are trying to do. Start a business, Go for a run, keep to a diet, fix the broken door or any number of the things we tend to procrastinate or delay in our busy schedules. Let’s take jogging to stay fit as an example of how this defines every decision you make in your life.

You wake up knowing that if you go for a run you will feel great for the whole day, not only on a physical level but on a psychological one as well. But as soon as you put the thought in motion a negative force is immediately jumps into action. Why today? Maybe later, It looks like rain, you’ve just got over a cold so should you go now? The list of excuses comes at you like a flood. It really is relentless and you have to just take one step at a time to overcome this. The initial step will undoubtedly be the hardest.

So you go and get changed. Then the excuses from within continue to come. Go later, just do a small run today, don’t you have work you need to do? But you have to focus on one thing and one thing only…get out of the house. The walk down the path to the gate is not as difficult as getting changed, but it still is a monumental effort. Out of the gate the mind games continue, but you feel a slight change in how you are dealing with them.

As you start to run you leave behind the majority of the negative thoughts that pray on you, but beware they will still sit on your shoulder waiting for you to start feeling tired, but you will have the momentum and the confidence at this point to know you are going to complete your run, beat your negative thoughts and be closer to your goals. This example could be about anything as everything we do in our lives is faced with the same doubts and negativity, and this is from us!

We can be our own worst enemies. But understand one thing no doubts and fears from anyone else will ever be as damaging or powerful as the ones that come from within. If you can overcome this then you can overcome anything in your life. As I have mentioned before focus on the little goals to help you keep building momentum and very soon you will be taking on bigger challenges that you have always dreamed you could do.

Keep in mind that everyone has excuses why they shouldn’t, couldn’t or dare not do the difference between those that don’t and those that do, is only in the fact that they tried. Never be afraid to fail, out of failure always comes lessons that help us in the future, but at least give yourself the chance to succeed by trying.