I’m a big fan of failure. That wasn’t always the case. As a child I was obsessed with getting things right- being best- at whatever- or I’d take my toys and go home. I was listening to a song by The Flaming Lips that got me thinking about the sound that precedes taking a risk-
“It’s just a sound going through your head
Let it go on, let it go on
She’s going on, where it will be taken
And she’s going into the unknown”
Yeh- I like the Flaming Lips. They gave lyrics to a group I call “The Shitty Committee”. Everyone has this negative chorus in their head, some are louder, some just whisper in a nasty scratchy way. They say things like “It will never work”, “You can’t do that”, “Who do you think you are” etc. Everyone has their own Shitty Committee songbook- I leave it to you to fill in the blanks. And very often these words and thoughts stop creators and entrepreneurs in their tracks, leaving amazing things undone, unsaid and unaccomplished. Because the biggest tool the Committee has in their arsenal is failure, and our fear of it.
What if it doesn’t work?
That’s the fear and it’s a biggie. What if they say no? What if it doesn’t sell, work, go viral or take off? What if no one shows up? What if too many people show up? I could go on but you’re smart- you get it- and, probably, there’s a nugget of familiarity in this for you. So I’m going to tell you how to get past this. It’s a guarantee.
Fail. F#*k up Royally.
Make a huge mess of it, then wallow in it.
Stand in the face of something that didn’t go well and yell- “Is that all you’ve got?
Be embarrassed- humiliated, even, but just for a second because then you have another task.
This is key.
Ask your self- did you DIE? Everything is up from dead.
Then, remember you tried. Celebrate and proclaim your courage and braveness. Grab that failed effort and examine it closely- not ruminating on all that you did wrong, but what you learned and how you can improve on what you did. Or scrap it and try some other hair-brained scheme and another. With every failed attempt, done correctly, there are several MAJOR bonuses
- You learned- if you haven’t- you need to go back and look, even if the answer is- “not doing THAT again”
- You got braver- once you have tried, failed and come through it- the next time you try something- it’ll be a teeny bit easier
- You got something good out of it- information, attention, a new idea
- You gained confidence.
100% of people who don’t make an attempt, fail.
Sitting back, keeping things as they are. Is safe. Familiar. And things grow and change a bit even in stasis. Dead things decompose. Everything changes. This is the way of things. And you can maintain the status quo- hell- the non-risk takers are the majority and they invented the status quo and keep up “the way things are”. But if you’ve read this far it’s because you read the title of this and read on because- a.) you are a friend of mine and like to keep up with me or …
b. You Don’t Like Failure
If that’s the case then you now have a rock-solid argument for making failure your friend. The yellow brick road to a stellar, exciting future filled with failure’s 2nd cousin- uncertainty. Get comfortable with uncertainty too- because in doing so you will realize- uncertainty isn’t fatal and no matter what the outcome is- you’ll be ok, because you’re you. Survivor of failures and brave explorer of the unknown.
Go get ’em tiger.