I have perfected the art of not-failing and I am ready to share the simple steps of how you can not-fail, too. Some of us are born with the skill, others of us really have to work at it but I know that if you follow these steps, you too can have a life of not-failures.
Step One: Do not try.
If you’re afraid you won’t succeed, don’t even try. Your time is better spent doing that thing you’ve always done. Hang out with the same people, don’t learn anything new that might change your perspective. Definitely don’t risk getting hurt. Seriously, the chance that you might fail at feeling better than you ever have before is too great. Stick with mediocre. It may be boring, but it’s safe.
Step Two: Quit before you fail.
This is my personal favorite. You’re the “go-getter,” the “idea” person. You’re the one who can’t wait to jump off and try something new. You have ignored Step One and now you are all in. ALL.THE.WAY.IN. Now, as the work starts and things begin to get more complicated, that fun idea, that physical goal, that really AWESOME concept for an automatic pillow fluffer all start to lose the air of romance. You begin to see there may be more sacrifice involved than you had bargained for. And for what: the chance of success? The chance that weeks, months or YEARS down the road you may finally earn some money doing something you’re excited about (SCARY!)? No, no, my friend. If you quit now, you can blame it on risk, competing priorities, or even the needs of others. Save yourself from paying the cost. Sure, it may not be as fulfilling or exciting, but it will be safer.
Step Three: Ignore steps one and two and redefine failure
You knew this was coming, I hope. Safe decisions can be comfortable, but they can also be really boring. Every day most of us chose to do something that makes us uncomfortable, something that scares us a little bit, something that is hard. This stepping outside of what’s comfortable must become the definition of success for us. The definition of failure must become the absence of taking a step to move toward something better, no matter the size of the step. Maybe you didn’t get the job because you asked for too much compensation. Did you fail or did you move one step closer to being a more successful negotiator next time you interview?
Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” While each of his missed shots could be called a failure in isolation, the collective attempts as well as the shots he made led to a supremely successful career overall. By not taking our shots in this life, we end up skating around the edge of the ice, debating about the right time to get in the game, complaining about how long things are taking, or just looking on as others score goals in our place.
Starting my own business is one of the biggest shots I have ever taken. Working for myself is HARD. Developing business, learning how to market myself, networking under the constraints of introversion is all tough stuff. The most difficult thing, though, is fighting off steps one and two. The only thing I hate more than failing is feeling stuck and helpless in a life that holds me back from something great. This is why I keep trying to live out step three.
There IS something greater in me that I will not give up on. Though I may fail to make some shots, I am determined not to pretend to play the game anymore. My success lies in taking the shot and learning from what happens next.
There is something greater in you, too. Leave a comment below to share what shots you are ready to take or how you are already practicing step 3. Your words could encourage others to get in the game!