Falling down hurts, really bad. Not only does it hurt physically, but the ego gets beat up pretty bad too. One of the worst falls I ever experienced was in the 8th grade. I had broken my tibia playing football and had to wear a cast that went from my foot to the top of my thigh. I had to use crutches everywhere I went. One night lying on the bed of our two-story house in Tennessee, my step Mom called out, “Brownies are ready!” I jumped up with urgency, grabbed my crutches and headed toward the stairs. Due to the desire and focus to get to the brownies, I forgot which was supposed to go first when crutching down stairs: feet first or crutches first? Of course I picked the wrong order and put my feet out first! It seemed like a scene from the Matrix with Neo. I was launched into the air towards the steps face first. Somehow, someway I was able to turn my body around and land on my backside and skid all the way down to the bottom of the staircase. Like the sound of cascading drums, I hit every stair on the way down. It was loud… so loud that everyone jumped up and ran to check on me to make sure I hadn’t broken anything else. I had turned white as a ghost, but thankfully everything was ok – except my ego!
My fall that day reminded me of the “F” word: Failure. Failure can be debilitating to many people. Some people will avoid it all costs. It can strike fear into the hearts of its victims. However, failure isn’t so bad if you look at it with the proper perspective. Making mistakes and failing are actually some of the greatest tools we can use to get better, improve our skills and grow. From two of sport's greatest legends, Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan, we see failing is one of the best, if not the best, ways to becoming a champion. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way today. Failure is viewed in a negative light. It gets in peoples head, holds them back, and hinders them from making progress. They avoid it and run from it. They stop taking risks. If not careful, failure will run your life and keep you in mediocrity. Here are three ways failure can hold you back from success:
1. Taking Failure Personally
Just because you fail, doesn’t mean you are a failure. It takes great courage to try something new. Starting your own business, asking someone out on a date, missing the game winning shot, or not getting offered the job can be a huge bummer, but it doesn’t define who you are. I love how John C. Maxwell views failure – He views it as “failing forward”. When we fall down, we learn – we don’t lose. If we take failure personal, it has the ability to cripple us mentally. If you have failed at something royally, don’t take it so personal. Ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this’, ‘How can I grow from this experience?’ If you can view failure as a learning experience it will pay great dividends for years to come.
2. Being Afraid of Failure
If you want to win and win big, you will have to get over being afraid of failure. Could you imagine if I never got over crutching down stairs after my fall? My life would have shrunk to being pretty small that day. I would have never left the house. While I did slow down some, I didn’t avoid the stairs. So it is with you. You have got to face the fear of failure. If you want to do great things in life, you will have to learn to confront failure and take some risks. It will be ok! You will live through it. I remember playing football in the 9th grade and everyone being afraid of going against the biggest guy on the team. Everyone avoided him. I started viewing him differently. Every chance I got to go against him, I did. He destroyed me – at first. Over time though, I got better until one day I beat him! I ended up getting the Most Improved Player that year. What if I never would have faced him? I probably wouldn’t have gone on to play college if I did. What about you? What are you afraid of and avoiding because of failure?
3. Blaming Others For Our Failures
I get it. Sometimes we get pushed down the stairs, we don’t fall by accident. It’s not our fault. Our co-worker lied to us. We took a close friend’s advice and made a poor choice. Our parents enabled some of our not so good behaviors. Though that may be true, you have got to take ownership of your mishaps. The number one foundational rule of success in life is “Own up to your mistakes” If you won’t “own up”, you will never “grow up”. Don’t play the blame game. Don’t point the finger. Stop getting someone to bail you out every time. Face the music, soldier up and grow from it. Get better. Get stronger and mature. Who knows you might just have some fresh brownies waiting on you on the other side. It is well worth the ride down. I encourage you today…Fail forward!