I am fortunate that my career takes me to places all over the world. I have the opportunity to speak and collaborate with many extraordinary people – from superstar students to extraordinary executives and all in between.
As I was considering the topic for this week’s article, I wanted to focus on resiliency. Specifically, I wanted to hear directly from people about how they have successfully persisted through failure and setbacks.
Whereas others might have given up when obstacles seemed too difficult, these individuals you will read about below knew failure was just part of the success equation. They actually associated failure as a requirement for success. As a result, they bounced back each and every time to accomplish even more.
Lin Jordan has an ‘impressive-yet-classified’ background from the FBI and now enjoys connecting and supporting business entrepreneurs. He’s a pay-it-forward gentleman that I deeply respect. About failure, Lin believes “failure is a state of mind that is chosen rather than assigned. If you must, define failure as a temporary detour leading to success.”
Another mentor and friend having an incredible perspective on leadership and failure is Rich Gorman. He told me that he remembers reading a book by Robert Schuler titled, ‘Success Is Never Ending, Failure Is Never Final’. For Rich, the book was life changing and helped him realize that “failure is a prerequisite for sustainable success. Everyone fails. We can choose to look at failure as a negative experience, or we can choose to look at it as a learning experience with lessons to guide us on what needs to be changed in order to achieve our desired result.”
I asked Rich about how he helps people move from a mindset of feeling like a failure to accepting failure for success. He said, “Dealing with failure emotionally is quite difficult, but you have to separate your role performance from your self-esteem and your self-worth. People with a healthy self-esteem are able to more easily grow as a result of failure. If dealing with failure is difficult for a person, we typically work to bolster self-esteem. That process takes work but is certainly manageable.”
Becky Sansbury is a former HOSPICE chaplain, Creator of After The Shock, author and speaker. She is an expert in adapting to crisis situations and finding resiliency during times of significant trauma. Becky shared the following thought with me, “Did you ever notice how shocked we are when we fail at something, as if perfection should be our assumed constant level of achievement? That belief makes us brittle, breakable, and more likely to fail. Recognizing temporary failure as a natural possibility on the continuum of success makes us flexible, resilient, and more likely to succeed.
Many people never achieve their full potential because they are afraid of failure and are even more afraid of looking like a failure. Failure is essential to the success equation. I know that sounds odd, but failure is simply part of life in many ways.
Most people assume success only results from taking the correct actions and never making any mistakes. However, we can learn just as much, if not more, from failure’s ‘teachable moments’ and picking ourselves back up one more time. It is not how many times we fall down that matters, it is how high we BOUNCE!
Consider these questions below to help you ‘bounce’:
- Are you happy with where your life is right now?
- If I had a magic wand, would there be any changes you would like to make?
- What would you do right now, if you knew you would not fail?
- What is keeping you from taking action towards this goal?
It is time for a new way of thinking – a positive change. Think differently about fear and failure and focus on resilience. Start envisioning the success you will shortly have in your life because you are no longer afraid to take action.
Even if you do make a mistake or fail in some capacity, simply learn as much as you can from it.
Remember, it’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you bounce back up even wiser.
Dr. Kevin Snyder is a professional speaker and author with a passion for helping others find their own and inspire it in others. He’s presented over 1,150 leadership keynotes and workshops in all 50 states and numerous countries. Kevin’s also a coach for aspiring speakers and authors. He’s never delivered pizzas but he does currently live on a sailboat – Why Knot!