What holds us back from our dreams more than anything else? Fear of failure. So let’s tackle it head on. Sooner or later you’re going to fail. In fact, you may fail over and over. The key is to fail forward, where the pain of the failure is reduced by the benefit of the lessons it brings.
And if you’re taking risks, you’ll be rejected too. Here’s how to handle both with grace, humor, and self-acceptance.
Failure seems to come in two flavors. The first is internally created: you didn’t do enough research; you made a bad decision, sabotaged yourself, or let someone psych you out. The second type of failure hits you from the outside. You’ve done all you could: focused on a positive outcome, worked your butt off, paid your dues, and things just didn’t work out.
Rejection comes in only one flavor: the external kind. This is when others just don’t want to play with you. I’ve been rejected by potential hires (“I don’t want this stinkin’ job”), staff members who quit or weren’t right for their role, sales prospects (zillions of these), friends who decided I wasn’t cool enough, you name it. When they say “No,” I say “Next!” Remember the Rock Rejection Mantra:
Some will. Some won’t. So what? Someone’s waiting.
Someone out there wants what you’re offering. Now it’s time to find them.
You’re going to experience adversity in life and a lot of it if you take risks. Here’s what I do to stay on track:
Earth is a great university… it’s not perpetual Club Med.
- Recall the vision that got you going. Spend a day working on it, and let that dream get back on its feet. Think about your purpose in life, the people who will help you get up and running, the places you can go that will move you forward.
- If people tell you, “You can’t” or “That’s a lousy idea,” congratulations; that usually means you’re on to something. Watch the movie “Basket Ball” by the creators of South Park. It’ll show you the power of the psych out in a humorous way.
- Sometimes you have to look the part, play the game, and tolerate the bureaucracy. So do it, and don’t complain about it. You’re stretching to make others more comfortable. That’s gracious and mature.
- Consider that “no” might just mean “maybe”;either you need to pitch in a more compelling way (explain their return on investment, success statistics, how you’ll help them crush their competitors), or you don’t have what the prospective customer needs yet.
- On the darkest days, when you’re stuck or psyched out, help others. Do some volunteer work. It’ll reconnect you to what matters and will foster hope.
And in the world of business-building…this is required.