I’ll never forget the moment when I first began dating my husband and he looked me straight in the eye and asserted that I hadn’t failed enough in life. As a born perfectionist, I looked at him a little (maybe a lot) horrified.
“What do you mean I haven’t failed enough?”
Are you kidding? Who wants to fail? It sucks. It feels horrible and for me, failure would just mean I wasn’t meeting my already unreasonably high standards.
I glared back at him and I dismissed his statement thinking, “Yeah, whatever – what do you know?” But, not dissuaded by the look on my face he went on.
He said that because I hadn’t failed and taken risks I was never going to achieve the success I wanted.
And there it was. Ouch. His words stung, but I could hear truth in every syllable.
He was right. I had been playing it safe for so much of my life. After all instead of pursuing writing, I became an attorney because it was practical (you’ll never starve my mom would say). I stayed in the same law firm for 14 years because I was afraid they’d find out I was a fake. I stayed in my comfort zone and while I had reached a respectable level of success – the kind of raw, mind-blowing success I was looking for kept its distance.
So, that is when I made the decision. My husband was right – if I wanted to reach my goals it was time I got comfortable with falling down.
At first, I sat there wondering what failure really looked like. If you’re anything like me, you can probably relate – you’ve been so busy showing people that you can do everything perfectly so understanding how to fail with grace probably feels a little foreign.
And it does, but here’s the thing. Learning to make mistakes begins with a baby step. Playing it safe can only keep you going so far, but it’s in your mistakes that you find your biggest lessons.
If I hadn’t made some big mistakes after the practice of law, my current business would never exist – and I’d still be stumbling, trying to find my true passion.
You see, after I left the law I became a life coach and when people didn’t flock to my doorstep (which I couldn’t understand because as far as I was concerned life coaching was truly life-saving) I felt a little deflated (ok, maybe totally deflated).
I kept trying different things and when none of them worked, I recognized that I had a choice – I could either lick my wounds and crawl back to the practice of law or I could use my failures as an opportunity.
Determined not to go back to being a lawyer, I realized that when we look at our failures there are nuggets of wisdom to use when you dust off the disappointment.
For me, I studied what it took to build a coaching practice. I took marketing courses, brand writing courses and studied what some of the more successful coaches were doing so I could do the same.
And little by little, I found success.
But success in coaching wasn’t the end of the story.
The truth is that once I understood what it took to help life coaches grow their business – I realized that brand strategy + copywriting actually took the best from being a lawyer and life coach and tied it into a single business. Which is how Soul Genius was born.
Why am I sharing all this?
Well, the truth is that fear of failure stops so many of us and when someone tells us to fail more, we may not even know what it means. Worse yet, if we do fail, we’re not sure how to get back up.
Failure is ultimately just a means to an end. It’s the way that we learn, grow and find the true path. Most overnight successes have probably failed 1000 times before they achieved what looks like instant fame and fortune.
Isn’t it Thomas Edison who had 1000 unsuccessful attempts before inventing the light bulb?
Failure can help you find crazy success because each failure brings us closer to the thing we most want.
So, what would you do if I told you go out and fail? Most likely where you sit right now my fellow perfectionist, telling you to fail more probably doesn’t mean anything to you by itself.
But what if I ask you this: what risks are you not taking? Where do you play small and stay within your comfort zone?
By identifying all the ways you tell yourself that you couldn’t or shouldn’t do something, it becomes easier to identify places where you’re ready to face growth. And mind you – stepping forward doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily fail. What it does mean is that when you do, you’ll be ready to step fully into your success.
This week, I want to encourage you to make some mistakes. Take some chances and see what there is to learn – even if you don’t automatically succeed.
What is one risk, opportunity or chance you’ve been unwilling to make until today? When you’ve identified it, make the decision to move forward, celebrate you step into the possibilities you never even knew existed.
P.S. I still believe life coaching is a great way to help you bypass all the doubts, fears and beliefs that stop you from moving forward. If you want to know more then let’s talk. Click here.