We all share some commonalities in that we experience life’s good and bad. We each have our own share of successes and short-comings. The expectations that we place on ourselves feel like the weight of one-thousand tons rested on our backs. So in effort to find some sort of balance, we dwell in the failures and bypass some of our successes. Just as so, some of us dwell too long in our successes and spend very little time focused on learning from the failures. For me, failure has always been something that I embraced studying speakers like Jeff Johnson or businessmen like Soichiro Honda. My goal here is to advocate for mental toughness. I want more people to know that they do not need to fear failure, but instead use their obstacles to build character.
As a kid, I grew up with many ideas, I got to try and experience different things that allowed me to get closer to finding what’s for me or even what my purpose is. Throughout that process, I found things I enjoyed, but were not good at and things I was good at but did not enjoy. As I moved from adolescence to adult-hood, I had a better understanding of how to make that discovery work for me.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I wanted to live fast, I wanted all the cool things and I wanted to be the first in my family or even neighborhood to bring it home. For a while, that was enough to fuel my drive. I sold snacks/candy, I made jewelry, I did yard work, I was a young entreprenuer that found value in transactions. Not every idea worked out or lasted long. But I at least got a taste of hard work and what it meant to make and sell your own products/services. So once, my dream of playing football was met with the reality of going 0-40 (zero wins and forty loses), I soon had to rely on that work ethic to be able to hold me over enough to get to and through college.
The highlights of my journey are centered around not being afraid to take risks and learning from mistakes. Who knows what my life would be like if I was emotionally impacted by not pursuing my professional football dreams. I took a risk by moving out of LA 10 days after my high-school graduation to start summer school in Arizona. My process today, more than back then, involves checking my fears at the door and also not attaching too much to things that didn’t go my way. So maybe I didn’t become a professional football player or my candy business didn’t turn into something bigger, but I learned a lot about myself and what I am willing to do. With the added experience, I like to look at things from the perspective of logic. If I notice that I am approaching a new project or venture from a very emotional perspective, a take a step back to try to identify the reason(s). 1. Am I just excited? 2. Am I angry or vengeful? 3. Am I afraid of something? These questions at least put me in position to approach business decisions with a lot more clarity (often after a night’s rest).
Image by Melissa Zieske
To wrap up, I want to mention that when we experience difficulties or failures, it’s a sign for us to take a step back and evaluate our approach, execution, and recovery. When I fail, I like to look at what I did or what I can do going forward to impact the end result. In those instances where things are out of my control, I focus on not over-reacting and I look to place myself in situations where he ball is in my court. For me it’s simple, I fail, I learn, and I adjust. The only emotion that drives me is passion, but my mind is still the brains of the operation. This is not to say the emotional toll of certain experiences don’t have an impact on me, but I usually try not make decisions right away, when I am very emotional about something.
I hope this info/story helps someone who is working through dealing with failure. It’s important to know that we aren’t defined by one failure or even ten, but instead sum of all our experiences, how we dealt with them, and how we feel inside.