Drawing on decades of research, noted social scientist and author Brené Brown advocates that the path to success lies in the ability of individuals to experience failure along the way.
Many successful entrepreneurs support this theory. Consider Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, who started several businesses that have fallen completely flat such as Virgin Cola and Virgin Brides.
Most of us tend to shy away from big risks. Research identifies that the desire for perfection and fear of failure cause an aversion to necessary risk tasking. The prospect of feeling shame and embarrassment can drive anyone to hide under the covers. Christina Wallace had to spend some time soul searching after mourning the loss of her company, Quincy Apparel, which shut down in just 10 quick months after launching.
I too have produced some failures and weathered setbacks; community courses that didn’t garner any sign-ups, investments that yielded significant losses, and unemployment.
Rough beginnings are a common narrative among many successful actors, business owners, writers, politicians and others. But early struggles or mid-career setbacks ended up being a small blip on their long timeline.
- Ellen Degeneres, already successful with her sitcom Ellen, announces she is gay in 1997 as does her character, at which point the show gets cancelled one year later. Ellen is unemployed and ventures back into stand up comedy hoping for any type of work. Eventually she is able to make her way back to her current highly successful, daytime tv show.
- Steve Jobs, ousted from Apple Computers, the very company he founded, went on to start NeXT which floundered until it was finally bought by Apple where Steve eventually returned as CEO.
- Casey Neistat, Vlogger and Youtube sensation started out on welfare. A father at age 16, Casey supported his family as a dishwasher before building his successful youtube channel and making advertisements for brands like NIKE.
If our path toward greatness and success involves risk, potential embarrassment, and possible feelings of shame and humiliation, how do we navigate forward through our vulnerability to reach our true potential and goals?
Here are 4 New Habit Nuggets:
Create a narrative that cultivates positivity and courage.
To understand our life experiences, we create stories, a narrative that attempts to give them meaning.
We create assumptions about whether an event is good or bad, true or untrue, or if it should have value in our lives.
When we encounter challenges or regrettable experiences it is important to look for lessons learned. By creating a more redemptive story accentuating and focusing on the positive aspects, we can protect our self-esteem and build our confidence.
Give yourself a high dose of self-compassion.
Self-compassion according to Kristin Neff, PhD, involves kindness toward yourself and the ability to hold painful thoughts and feelings in isolation and separate from your own identity.
Compassion toward yourself will help release the internal critic and allow the judgmental and shameful thoughts dissipate. So give yourself some love.
Adapt a creative and curious mindset.
Our entire educational system is chained to a model where there is no room to make mistakes, to experiment, or to risk failure. Grades, perfect answers, standardized test scores are the benchmarks of success. We all have been conditioned since kindergarten to avoid failure.
If we are constantly living our lives by avoiding errors and striving for perfection, we will not able to apply new creative thinking to our situation.
In order to challenge our status quo, we need to think outside the box, be open, and curious . This will lead to new possibilities.
Ask yourself daily questions that focus on growth and learning.
When we focus solely on our accomplishments we limit ourselves to actions that are proven and safe. In order to shift our mindset to become open to risk taking, we need to change the questions we ask ourselves.
- What did you learn today?
- Did you step out of your comfort zone today? If so where and how?
- What have you tried that is new or different?
- What setbacks did you experience today?
- What have you learned from these setbacks?
- If you were guaranteed a “A” what would you try that would be new or different?
- Where have you challenged your status quo?
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” –Louisa May Alcott