Many of us, when we screw up, fail, or are rejected, do two things without thinking: first we cover it up; second, we go right from the “failure” to “I’m worthless!” We take it personally and the learning we take away is to never, ever to get caught in that kind of situation again. The lesson? Play not to lose.
Larry Wilson and Hersch Wilson wrote this in PLAY TO WIN! Choosing Growth over Fear in Work and Life. They continued:
The “game changers” came to the belief that the game was about learning. How they learned was by putting themselves at risk, “failing,” learning, and then trying again. They were successful because they allowed themselves to make mistakes and to learn quickly from those mistakes.
A completely different way of thinking about failure. Does this mean that [they]weren’t hurt by rejection or failure? Of course not. We are wired to be affected by perceived slights and insults. The difference is that these individuals had developed a process for thinking and dealing with failure that allowed them to bounce back faster, keep it in perspective, and move on. The core part of the process was thinking more deeply and clearly about what failure truly means – and what it doesn’t.
“I cannot fail, I can only learn and grow.” At a very deep level, the people we looked at in Changing the Game took what others perceived to be “failure” experiences and turned them into growth experiences. More important, they really didn’t believe in failure. They had taken the time and energy to get underneath that culturally powerful word and think about it, to ask, “What does failure really mean? What is the worst that could happen? Will I die? Will I be cast out into darkness?” What they discovered was that most of their fear of failure was based on – guess what? – irrational thinking.
We’ve featured some terrific lessons learned from small biz people recently. With this post, I’m starting a new daily series on changing how we think of failure. Each day I’ll present a quote with a notable point about failure. Because failure is a necessary part of success.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.