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Inner Game

No Failure, Only Feedback

cat failHave you ever felt a burning desire to achieve something great, only to be simultaneously petrified by the nagging question, “But what if I fail?”

I mean nothing’s worse than working your tail off only to fail, right? Or at least, nothing feels worse. Which is exactly why you constantly remind yourself of old adage “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

But hold on a second…

You may have also heard it said that failure is just the first step towards success. Or even that the road to success is paved with a series of necessary ‘failures’.

So which is it? Should we be trying to avoid the needless pain of unnecessary failure, or pressing head-on into it, for learning’s sake?

What does “Failure” even mean?

Today I’m going to challenge you that the answer shifts dramatically depending on how you even define the word “failure” in the first place.

Words are a funny thing. The meaning we attach to words can dramatically impact our beliefs, how we feel, and what actions we do or don’t take. And as human beings, we’re meaning-making machines, aren't we?

Winston Churchill famously said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”. He also said, “If you're going through hell, keep going.”

And Michael Jordan famously said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

But how in the ever-loving world do you actually do that?

Well today we continue our journey with inner game ninja DougO, as we invite him to weigh heavily in on this with us. This is part of a series of inner game dialogues with Doug – if you've missed the first few, they are:

Some really good stuff there. Highly recommended.

And I also highly suggest you take a few minutes to let your guard down right now, and allow DougO fully challenge your paradigm of what “ failure” really is, what it means to you, and how to release its choke-hold over you.

From Doug Ottersberg, Inner Game Advisor…

{Mogul Elite: Download an MP3 and Transcript of this video in the Power Pack tools for this lesson}


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Bottom line: Our failures give us a chance to process why things didn't work, and to make necessary adjustments to our plan and actions, so we can take another step closer to success.

Practicing embracing your mistakes in order to learn from them. You should continue taking risks, even if you might fail. And even celebrate each little “failure” with a “feedback” session.

Memorize these statements, so you can say them aloud to your subconscious mind every time you struggle in dealing with yet another failure:

  • “There is no failure. There's only feedback.”
  • “What can I learn from this that will sharpen me even more?”
  • “The road to success is paved with a series of ‘failures’.”
  • “Here I grow again!”
  • “Here's some feedback coming in from the outside world, telling me, 'Hey. You're off target. You're off course.'"

And keep in mind that some of the most respected people in history have failed epically, only to learn, adjust and keep moving forward – ultimately becoming wildly successful.

So next time you fail, take a moment to remind yourself of the excellent company you keep:

  • Publishers rejected Stephen King’s first book thirty times. After throwing the book in the trash, King’s wife retrieved it, and gently nudged him to give it just one more go. Hundreds of published books later, he’s now one of the most widely known, best-selling authors of all time.
  • Walt Disney was axed because his editor said he seriously lacked in the imagination and good ideas departments. After starting a string of failed businesses, he eventually uncovered the recipe for mind-blowing success. And of course, today Walt Disney, Inc. still brings in billions of dollars, dozens of years after Walt’s death.
  • Albert Einstein couldn't even talk until he was four, couldn't read until he was seven, and his teachers and parents actually thought he was mentally retarded. In 1921, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics and is responsible for multiple, paradigm shifting breakthroughs in Science.
  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive (to a sympathetic friend for a paltry sum). Though he never enjoyed “success” during his lifetime, he kept painting and today, his paintings are worth millions and considered masterpieces of brilliance.
  • After a single performance, the Grand Ole Opry's manager told Elvis Presley, “You ain't goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Then he became one of the best-selling artists of all time, bar none. Still a household name even today.
  • Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” As an inventor, Edison failed literally a thousand times at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail a thousand times?” Edison replied, “I didn't fail a thousand times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

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