What does failure have to do with action?
I wrote an article on daring to celebrate failure. I spoke about the learning and growth and opportunities that we can find when we allow ourselves to really celebrate and learn from our failures.
A couple of months later, I'm curious how that's settled for readers. Curious what that article, the exercise provided, and the invitation to truly celebrate failure may have brought up for you. Resistance? Permission? A sigh of relief? Just notice. Whatever it brought up, it's just perfect. Failure's a big topic, right? Fear of failure, even bigger. Here is what I notice with people and failure.
I notice that the perspectives we hold about situations, design our pain levels. Failure is truly a place where lots of pain can lie for an individual - but what's an even greater pain, is the time before the failure spent "making up", imagining, believing, envisioning that failure.
A colleague of mine refers to FEAR as Fantasized Frightful Experiences Appearing Real. Fantasized Experiences, hmmm. This is where I see an even greater pain for folks, than the pain that actually comes from failing. The pain comes from imagining that we will fail, be wrong, lose, be a loser, be judged, laughed at, thought poorly of, lose respect, status, the list goes on.
And then, if there is actual "failure" it is not actually the real failure that hurts so much as what we make up it means. Self-worth, value, character, to name a few. As human beings, we let failure mean more than it actually means when we invite it into our sacred space of self worth.
And what's the impact? "Paralysis." Slow movement. Inaction. Staying small. Pre-occupation. No sleep. Inauthentic engagement. Disengagement. Foggy lenses. Avoidance. Frustration. Anger.
You can do something about this. When it starts to happen, when you notice the chatter starting, STOP. Notice what's happening and challenge it. Make a conscious choice to stop the noise and look at what is true. This "failure" does not define you. It has nothing to do with who you are as a valuable beautiful human being. Connect with that and make your powerful next step.
Try this on: Imagine, you are stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve something you really want. You're going for a new account, presenting a new product, submitting a new proposal, speaking at a huge engagement, submitting your first book, becoming a parent. What do you make up before you step over that line, into that new place? Do you envision great success and winning? Do you envision it being hard and horrible and scary? Do you just live in the moment, know it is what it is and step over the line from there - without any story around it? Just fully present?
Make up that it's hard - it will likely be. You'll walk in to it in a more resistant state.
Make up that it's easy - it will likely be. You'll walk in to it in a more responsive state.
Show up unattached with positive expectations and open to the "magic" - and you will be able to be fully present to the experience, responsive, open, agile, ready to move.
Then, you can dance with whatever shows up.
We have the beautiful opportunity to impact our outcomes and how successful we are by noticing how we're setting ourselves up for failure or success.
What is the mindset we bring into our challenges? What do we make up, fantasize about that doesn't serve us? It's all within reach to mindfully decide how we will move into something. Afraid? Great, a fantastic human emotion, one that is necessary (fight or flight and all that good stuff), AND just notice when it's real, when it's made up, and what you can do about it. Dare to challenge FEAR.
So please, continue on, dare to celebrate failure. For when you do, there is great learning and growth in it. But please don't dare torment yourself by fantasizing frightful experiences appearing real. Come to your life, fully present, challenge the fear and meaning of failure, and learn from what shows up.
Anese Cavanaugh is a certified coach, author and speaker and the founder of Dare To Engage, Inc., a company devoted to helping leaders become top leaders in their organizations and their lives through coaching and training. Her specialty is helping leaders build a healthier, more engaged workforce, retain their top talent, develop greater authentic engagement and create stronger personal sustainability. She holds a degree and multiple credentials in the areas of coaching, wellness, leadership development and health & productivity improvement. For more about Anese or the Dare To Engage Programs or to receive a complimentary report and audio on "Energy & Results" go to www.DareToEngage.com.