Do you fear failure? What does failure feel like to you?
Failure feels like a fall from 10ft in the air. It feels like an arm catching you in mid fall and getting the wind knocked out of your lungs. Failure feels like tears on your eyes. It feels like confusion. It feels you against the floor.
A few years ago during a Friday night partner stunting session, this was me – laying on the ground, trying to catch my breath. I was learning how to do a full down with my partner Jean.
(If you don’t know what a full down is here is a Facebook Video from a few years ago from my friend Jean. Head to the 11 second mark to see the full down.)
Even though I feared failure, it was my goal of the night to learn how to do a full down.
I had learned the basics of partner stunting – being comfortable with standing in my stunting partner’s hands then up into extensions. I even learned grin and berets and even landed a rewind (you do a back tuck into your partner’s hands). Even though I was little mortified, I knew it was time to do a full down.
In one of my first attempts of a full down, I got scared in the middle of the skill and I opened up early instead of staying tight and spinning down. My partner scrambled and kept me from hitting the floor. But in his effort to save me, his arm swung up and hit me in my chest.
All the air in my lungs was knocked out of me and he brought me to the floor.
This is one of the few times in my life where I thought I might need an ambulance. I had never had the wind knocked out of me before and tears quickly started flowing out of my eyes. Luckily my partner/friend Jean and the owner of the gym were at my side. The owner of the gym coached me to slow down my breathing and assured I was going to be okay. After laying on the ground for who knows long, I finally caught my breath and stood up. To my surprise, the owner of the gym encouraged me to get back up and try the skill again.
I looked at her like she was crazy. But she encouraged me and said that if I didn’t do the skill tonight, then I may not want to ever do it again. She said that the best way to get over this fear is just to try again. So after about an hour, I took her advice and I got back into the air. Even though I was still terrified, I put my fears aside and performed the skill.
So why am I telling you about one of my most prominent experiences of failure today?
I’m telling you about this emotionally charged and physically challenging experiences because I’m here to encourage you to NOT fear failure. The fear of failure is something everyone experiences. Whether you’re trying to get your small business off the ground or you’re trying to get to your next promotion, there is an inherent fear that things may not work out the way you want them to.
So how do you calm down your fear of failure and allow yourself the opportunity to pursue your goal or dream?
First, you don’t need to fear failure because failure is a part of life.
For success to be achieved, failure must be experienced. Know that failure makes us human. Nobody in this world is born with all the knowledge in the world on how to be successful. Know that everyone starts somewhere and that everyone fails at some point in your life.
Secondly, know that your failures are not equivalent to your value as a human being.
This is something I personally have struggled with all my life. I worked super hard in school because I used feel like the grades I got equaled my value as a person. I know this sounds crazy….but I remember my junior of college right before I look my midterm, I said out loud “this test score doesn’t define my value as a person”. One of my friends overheard me and turned to me bewildered and said “Emma it’s just a test. You are worth so much more than your grades.”
So I’m extending this reminder to you.Remember that failure is not a reflection of you are.
There are many reasons why things don’t work out in life and you cannot internalize those failures or else it’ll cripple you from trying new things in life.
Don’t fear failure because failure allows you to learn and reflect.
Whether you’re getting ready to launch your vegan beauty product or opening your doors for your ice cream shop, you’re learning what’s going to work for you and your business. If a product doesn’t sell and you end up closing a line of business, then you can take that failure and ask yourself why it didn’t work. Were consumers confused about what the product was? Was the branding unclear? Was it placed in the wrong location in stores?
The exercise of failing, asking, and reflecting can only help you and your business in future efforts. You’ll have a better idea of how to position yourself in your market or what products/services make sense for your audience.
Don’t fear failure because failure teaches you to get back up.
After getting the wind knocked out of me, I could have laid on the ground the rest of the night. But then I would have never overcome my fear or learned a new skillset. I know I couldn’t lay on the ground forever, so I got back up.
How would your life be if you chose to never stand back up when you failed? Failure is another chance for you to change your approach, try something different, and maybe even adjust your perspective.
Don’t fear failure because failure teaches you how to not take things for granted.
When we have everything in life – resources like money, houses, education, it’s easy to take things for granted and let the little things get to us. When we fail in life, we realize that we have something that we don’t have yet. We don’t take what we don’t have for granted because we know what it means to be without that thing. Failure is a reminder to never take anything for granted, even if you already have that resource or stability in your life. We all need to be reminded at times that our circumstances can change very quickly and to embrace life with some gratitude.
What failures have you experienced in life? What have you learned from those failures?
Thank you for reading!
Holly Phan Photography