There is tremendous freedom in failing. But it took me a long time to see it this way. A recent admission of my biggest business failure showed me just how powerfully positive it can be.
Many of the people who initially seek life and business coaching with me do not see failure as anything but that. A failure. They feel like they’re failing at their jobs or at their businesses. Like they’re failing their families and friends. Like they’re failing at life.
How could failing be a positive?
I was recently part of a large group of entrepreneurs who took part in a failure festival. We each had to share our biggest failures.
I had to share my biggest business failure. Out loud. To other people.
My heart revved and my mouth dried as I thought about it. As if I wanted to reveal my dirty secrets to a room of incredibly professional and successful people. I had barely acknowledged it to myself. Yet it had been there, gnawing on my insides for the last few months.
Ironic because I had been trumpeting my other life failures in my #FailFriday Facebook posts with gusto and laughs for the last several months. I’m good with failing at my life. What’s new there? But failing at business? Come on now.
As I listened to the others share their failures, a few things happened. Here are my big takeaways.
The things you think are a big deal are really only drops in the pond
I was such a failure, I told myself. My failure is so big I bet I’m going to win this contest. (They were rewarding and celebrating the biggest failure at each table.) But as soon as the first person started sharing her story of sinking tens of thousands of dollars into a program that generated very little if any revenue, I knew mine was a teensy weensy, itty bitty failure.
What a reality check. The thing that I had felt such shame about for the last few months was so cute and adorable you could pet it.
When we acknowledge our failures, they lose their power
When it was my turn to share, I still gulped, even after I had heard at least three other people confess their fails, all of which were worse than mine. My voice shook and my skin flushed and burned. And how could I not? I had kept this inside of me without looking at it or acknowledging it. I allowed it to fester and grow into a monster that gobbled up my energy and confidence.
And then it was out there. That big ugly failure that was anything but. When I saw it for what it was—growing pains that offered a valuable lesson—I was able to move forward.
There is always a lesson in your failure
Once I acknowledged my so-called failure out loud, I felt so much lighter. I didn’t realize until that moment how much extra weight it had added to me, and how that had slowed me down. Now that it was out there, I could look at it objectively. And that allowed me to see the lesson that had been disguised up to that point. There is always a lesson we can learn. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it requires a bit of exploring, but there is always a lesson there.
My big lesson in this experience that I share with you: as soon as you think you’ve failed or made a mistake, acknowledge it out loud. Then find the lesson that it offers you. Don’t carry it around with you. You’ll be able to move forward that much more quickly towards everything that you dream of.
Tired of feeling like you’re failing and don’t have the energy to find the lessons? Apply for a complementary strategy session. Even if we never speak again, you’ll find out what’s really going on for you right now and your best next step to get where you want to go. Find out if it’s right for you here.