“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
~ Babe Ruth ~
I almost titled this piece, ‘Permission to Fail,’ because today we’re talking about experiments and the natural evolution of failures leading to an eventual success. As a Life and Business Coach, I always frame things in a positive light. So today, we are talking about giving ourselves Permission to Succeed!
None of is us born with all the knowledge, skill and talent needed to live full lives. These discoveries come along as we meander down the path of Life and take in the lessons. More often than not, that means learning from mistakes. As a baby, we stumble and fall while learning to walk. We allow the feedback to enter our brain and to send a different set of instructions to our body, and we try again. Eventually, all systems learn to communicate and we walk, even if a bit jerkily. Then, over time, it becomes an automated motor skill and we no longer have to think about how to do it – we simply do it.
Somewhere along the line, as adults, many times we quit trying – we give up. Where is that curiosity, that drive, and that delight of discovery we had as a child?
If we are coddled and not allowed to fail, that also becomes a learned experience and we begin to mold our belief system around one or more of these concepts:
- I am not able to do this, I keep failing.
- Someone else can do it better/faster/smarter.
- I can stay in my “less capable” state and someone else will rescue me.
- To fall or fail, is bad; therefore, I won’t even attempt it.
- There is shame/embarrassment in trying and not succeeding.
- Everyone else is better than me; I am not worthy.
The list can go on and on; perhaps you have a thought or two to add to the list.
Our interests and priorities shift throughout our lifetime. Success is redefined. The strategies and tactics we employed in our twenties will likewise change in our sixties.
Regardless of how we were raised – and whatever failures or successes we have had thus far – we can give ourselves permission to keep learning, trying and figuring out winning strategies for ourselves. This is true whether we are trying to kick a habit or an addiction; it’s true whether we have a goal and keep slipping.
Babe Ruth struck out 1330 times during his career and he is still recognized as one of the all-time baseball hitters. This strike-out record was held for 30 years until Mickey Mantle surpassed it in 1964. The point is, we all remember their successes, not their failures.
Thomas Edison and his team spent countless hours and attempts at generating electricity. What if he had given up after only 100 attempts?
Like them, we can succeed through perseverance. And we can be accepting of the progress we make along the way. AND (and this is a big AND . . .) we can let go of the idea that we have to be perfect.
I have an over-achiever streak in me. Who knows how it got there. I love challenging myself, pure and simple. For me, it’s not to stand out in the crowd – far from it, as I prefer being the one behind stage, cheering everyone else on. It’s more about testing myself to find my limitations and it’s about stretching and growing. In a philosophical way, I want to honor the talents I’ve been given and to find ways to strengthen and share those talents outward with others.
The testing of our endurance, the increase in confidence and the overall well-being that comes with achievement is hard to deny. We have seen countless stories and photos of people who have lost limbs, or were born with challenges of their own. And we’ve seen so many of them succeed beyond what most would seem possible! They chose to see beyond the limitation, whether it be physical or emotional, and to learn ways to set and meet their personal goals. Indeed, many wonderful tools have been invented because there was a need.
None of us is perfect. And everything we master takes time, patience and fortitude.
When I started allowing myself permission to fail so that I could eventually succeed and reach my goal(s), then I discovered there was less pressure and I actually had more fun doing the work!
Try this the next time you are faced with a new or difficult challenge:
- Think through your options and weigh the costs of achieving it vs not achieving it.
- Answer honestly: Is this what YOU want? Or is this someone else’s goal?
- Envision success. Picture yourself at the finish line.
- What are the way points, or milestones along the way? Set yourself up for success as you gain momentum.
- How can you have fun with this? Everyone performs better when it’s fun vs work!
- Become a scientist; allow yourself to be curious to experiment. If one attempt fails, just write it off as an experiment and get back in there and try again.
- Give yourself permission to succeed!
Whenever I find myself throwing out one experiment to start another, I always take some time to reflect: what went wrong? What or how can I set it up differently so that I can succeed next time? Lessons and gifts are plentiful when I open myself to receive them.
This isn’t about getting over the fear of failure, although that can be a side benefit. It’s really about discovering solutions that work for YOU. What experiments will you embark upon? I’d love to hear about them!Meanwhile, Have a Golden Day!
Your Coach for Results