The Beauty of Failure and Doubt

May 14, 2012

Failure is your friend. Doubt is a good thing.

No, I’m not crazy (well, maybe some would say I am).

I despise the part of my brain that tells me I can’t do something. Scratch that – I love it.

I’m a firm believer that you can’t experience true success in anything until you’ve experienced genuine failure.

After all, how do we even know what happiness is unless we’ve experience sadness along the way. You can call this naysayer the Lizard Brain (thanks Seth Godin) the Beast (thanks Born to Run) or Uncertainty (thanks Jonathan Fields). It doesn’t matter. The simple fact is that it’s good to have this. Let me take that back.

This internal naysayer is a GREAT thing to have.

So, what does this really mean?

Does this mean there’s work to do? Absolutely, it does. Let me ask you this. Have you ever accomplished anything?…I mean anything truly remarkable that didn’t entail a lot of work? Blood, sweat and tears…whatever you want to call it; that’s what makes succeeding worth it.

I’m a believer that the journey is more important than the destination. This is where we learn about ourselves. What are the obstacles we face? Why do we face them?

I’ve run a couple of marathons. In my training runs, the last mile or two were always the hardest. Not necessarily because I was tired (although I was), but for some reason being close to the finish always had me experiencing some sort of challenging thought. If I was on a 10 mile run, it was around mile 8 or so that this came. If I was on a 4 mile run, it was mile 2 or 3. Pushing through this always made the run feel exhilarating. And, once I got to the last 800 meters or so, I’d get a huge adrenaline rush that would propel me to the finish. Have you experienced this in life?

What’s funny is that we all experience this in many facets. Whether it’s finishing a project at work, closing a deal, personal tasks at home; even writing.

4 Keys to Overcoming the Internal Naysayer

  1. Pay attention to it See it coming. Feel the despair it brings.
  2. Embrace it – Relish the fact that you’re going to hit it head on. Stare it down. Laugh at it. Love it.
  3. Leverage the times you’ve overcome it – What did it feel like? What got you through it? Really visualize this.
  4. Finish  You’re not ready to launch, just do it. You’re tired – just get up and go. Push, and then push some more.

The RESISTANCE Is Not Going Away

The fact of the matter is that we will experience challenges and this lizard brain throughout our lives. It’s inevitable. The true test is how you respond to it. In Steven Pressfield’s book, War of Art, he talks of finding ways to push through the resistance. Taking one step and finding tricks to overcome this.

If it’s a project at work, don’t think about finishing the damn thing. Try working on it for 10 minutes. Even five minutes will work. C’mon, you can do it. What’s five minutes? I bet 90% of the time, you’ll push through that five minutes and get into the flow of your work. Five minutes will turn into 10, then 30 and beyond. Next thing you know, you’ve made a significant dent in your work. You’re that much close to the finish line. Just repeat this process as many times as you need to. Don’t think you have to do anything all at once. My 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Brother Joe, used to say Divide and Conquer. Small steps over time, done in a consistent manner, lead to success every time.

I promise you, if you can get the Closer’s mindset, you can experience a lot of great things in life.

Start small and you’ll see yourself finishing what you started much more than you used to.

In the words of my good friend, Pat, FINISH!!!

Go get it!


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