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Women at Work: You can’t succeed without failing a few times first

May 27, 2018

The fear of failure can be crippling to most people.

In general, we have been programmed by teachers, parents or co-workers that failing is a negative thing or a sign of an underachiever. However, as time passes, failure is becoming more welcome and being viewed as a component of growth.

I recall just a couple of years ago when my daughter Haley took her driver’s test for the first time. She did everything perfectly, however, she relied on the backup camera when backing up. Instant fail, but I guarantee she learned what not to do the second time around. Unfortunately, the second test results matched the first after hitting a cone while parallel parking. As they say, “the third time’s a charm,” and she passed.

Although those types of failures sound minor in the grand scheme of things, no matter how small they are an important part of learning and becoming a successful person. In today’s rapidly changing business world, standing still and not taking risks that might lead to failures is a sure way to being unsuccessful.

“Success is a lousy teacher,” Bill Gates says. “It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

Failure should never be feared, and here’s why:

The most successful people are failures. Many leading names in a variety of industries have overcome many adversities to reach the top. For these business people, their initial setbacks and mistakes become opportunities to learn and redo.

No matter how perfect you may feel you are, there is always room for improvement. Unless you fail, you will never know which areas need improvement.

Think about your job — has your supervisor or manager ever pointed out something that may not have been done correctly or was completely wrong to begin with? Most supervisors are not out to get you. In reality, they are pointing out small failures that you will not do the next time around. Instead of pouting the next time around, correct the issue and do an even better job the next time.

For most entrepreneurs, the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” rings true after one or two failures. Failures help develop thick skin and allow you to power through with unwavering faith. The evolution from a good businessperson to a successful businessperson is based on all the growing and learning gained from having failures.

I often tell people who are close to me, “If you didn’t have me in your life, your life would be pretty boring.”

My comment is often met with an eye roll, but I think they secretly agree with me. You see, people who have a fear of failure play it safe. They never take a chance. Take that chance! Just do it — apply for the job that you may not possess all the requirements for. Perhaps they will participate in a talent contest when they really do not have talent in much of anything.

Ladies, and gentlemen, never let the fear of failure or failures themselves, paralyze you so greatly you are afraid to start over. All the limitations you feel are put there by yourself, and you only fail when you quit trying. You should always feel as though, if you could survive the failure you are going through now, you can survive anything. Each failure feels the worst, yet when it has passed by, it feels like nothing.

Personally, I have failed at many things, but I do know I wouldn’t be where I am today without having to overcome a failure or two. It is rare that a failure comes between me and the goals I have set for myself.

So you know what? Embrace those failures, be okay knowing you will probably fail in the future again and do not stop going after what you want.