In case you haven’t guessed we’re talking about the fear of failure and the fear of rejection.
The deal is, apparently, nobody likes failure and even less people relish the prospect of rejection. I agonised for days trying to come up with a subtle and PC way of dealing with this but sadly, I couldn’t so just cowboy-up and get over it you jessies.
Did that help? Thought not but I do have three ideas that might and here they are.
1 Celebrate failure
There’s such an unjust stigma attached to failure that it sickens me. Like everybody else get’s it right first time, every time so if you don’t there’s something wrong with you. Stuff and nonsense!
Everybody fails, in fact, in America they don’t take you seriously as an entrepreneur unless you failed a couple of times. The truth is failure is your most effective teacher so why not embrace it?
Success is great and we all want it but you have to say it’s pretty boring. “It worked” well bully for you Old Cock. Whereas failure is full of humour and lessons and depth.
Now, I’m not saying you should aim to fail I’m just saying that if you do you shouldn’t try and hide it. Instead why not share the failure, share the lessons, take on other people’s thoughts and ideas and then move on a much wiser person? Makes sense to me.
One of my clients, who I’m running a big new client acquisition project for, holds monthly failure meetings where people are expected to prove they’ve moved outside their comfort zones by sharing how they’ve crashed and burned with the group – brilliant! (They also share their successes too, of course).
Whilst making the same mistake more than once is not acceptable making a mistake for the first time should be seen as nothing more than a great way to learn and grow so celebrate the failure guys!
2 Put yourself in a place you’re likely to fail or be rejected
Whether it’s a board game or a cold call enter into it expecting to fail (the only reason for doing either in my opinion). Do it and revel in the ruins of your endeavour.
Try asking for something you know you won’t get safe in the knowledge you’ll get a big fat “no way Jose” in return. I find asking Mrs Ames if I can go on a golfing weekend with my dodgy mates is ideal for this.
You have to see that failure is rarely catastrophic (free form climbers and deep sea divers excepted) but is a great way to learn and, when you see nothing much bad happens, is also a great way to build confidence.
When I managed a lot of staff I had three sayings I used a lot (I still use them now BTW): –
- “What’s the worse that can happen?”
- “How hard can it really be?”
- “There’s nothing you can break that I can’t fix”
I wanted to build an environment where people felt comfortable in stepping outside their comfort zones (and so risk failure) but safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be punished if it all went pete-tong and I’d always be there for them if it did. Worked a treat for me; the pace my people developed was astonishing!
So seek out opportunities where the best you can expect is a draw – make failure and rejection your friends.
3 Take the lead yourself
Whether you’re a manager or just one of life’s natural early-adopters why not take the lead?
Generally the person who does the most, fails the most but they also make the most progress. So the question is “do you want to be that guy?” I can’t answer that question for you but I can say a healthy disregard for rejection and failure is infectious especially when lead from the top.
Why not hold a monthly “success and failure” meeting where everybody learns from the win/lose experiences of everybody else? It also becomes pretty obvious that everybody fails and everybody gets rejected so there’s nothing wrong when it happens to you.
Perfect if you’re leading a new project or experiencing a period of sustained change.
Courage is always a part of personal growth – how brave are you feeling?
Once last thing…….
The whole point of this post is for you to view the Terrible Twins as your allies. By overcoming them you gain experience, become stronger and inevitably more confident.
However, I’m not advocating a slap-dash approach to your work where careless and silly mistakes are acceptable.
They aren’t and should be dealt with in the serious and firm way they deserve.
I’m also not advocating taking undue risks where the consequence of failure is serious.
Only a fool walks the tight-rope blind-folded and in a gale. You always need to assess the outcome of failure and make sure you’re comfortable with it. Anything else is negligent!
Anyway, be brave, embrace failure and learn from your mistakes. I’d also like you to share some of your classic bloopers as comments to this post. Go on, take the leap!
Good luck dear reader!