Probably one of the most dreaded words you never want to say or hear.
I’ve Failed. Immediately the feeling of self-loathing, disappointment, and sadness fills your mind.
In hindsight in my life, there were many times that I thought I’d failed. I remember vividly that I was so disappointed that I was not selected as an entrepreneur of the year at the age of 25 and felt a complete failure.
Emotionally, my biggest disappointment or failure would be the closure of my jumping castle business in 2005...At that point in my life, everything around me collapsed, my health, my trust in people and my financial well-being were in tatters...It was 5 years of success and then suddenly nothing...accusations from people close to me trusted people around me, worsened my feeling of despair. I could have called that one of my biggest failures.
Sometimes I think that perhaps I must fail the expectations of some of my closest family and friends not living up to their expectations and they might be disappointed in me.
Looking at my own business, I have these huge expectations and where I want to be and I think to myself, I’ve failed.
I have failed so many times! Or have I? Are disappointments in our life, really failures or are they expectations not met? Or feedback that directs us to places where we should improve.
What if I tell you today, that failures don’t exist! When you fail, it’s mere feedback on what you need to change or focus on doing differently. It’s an opportunity to re-direct.
I see you nodding your head, and saying no Lizette that's just mincing words, I have failed my marriage and my partner left me. I should have tried harder then he would not have had the affair. I failed him...Did you?
Let me ask you this, were you who you are in the marriage, did you show up, did you give your everything...and no, you cannot say, I should have and have regrets of changes you wanted to make.
Every decision you made at the moment you've made it, was according to the best information you had at hand at that point in time... We all make decisions and then want to look at it in hindsight and criticize the decision...does that even sound fair?
Your marriage wasn’t a failure, it is an experience that didn't deliver the outcome and results as expected...it was only feedback. It has allowed you to re-direct, re-focus, and make better decisions for future relationships.
When life happens to us, we have two choices, you can either fight it and try to justify the outcome, by battering yourself, pondering on the what if’s, and highlighting your weaknesses OR you can embrace your strength amidst these challenges, re-adjust your focus and confidently step up closer to where you want to be, not holding onto the past.
I know it is easier said than done...our biggest challenge is to fight our emotions during a challenging time or negative feedback, but understanding why can help us to shift our mindset. I want to discuss just a few reasons today, I do discuss in detail how to exchange failures to feedback in one of my workshops.
The first reason why we feel like a failure is Expectation...
Our expectation is that we will get the position we have applied for, and then we don’t. Our disappointment is directly linked to our own expectations and no one else. I remember the last position I applied for before I started my own business full time. I’d applied for a position at a very large reputable company as a Sales and Emotional Trainer, a position I really wanted. After a grueling month of interviews, delivering presentations, and ending up as one of the final two candidates, I expected that I have clinched it, then a day before I was due to start, I got the dreaded call that I wasn't successful and the position was given to the other candidate...
My first reaction was I’ve failed. My expectations weren't met. We are programmed to think that if we do not live up to our expectations it is a failure. What we are supposed to do, is to see the situation for what it is and move our expectations to exploration. This will give us fresh eyes on any feedback and we will become adventurers of hope, opportunity, and success.
The second reason why we feel like a failure is assumption.
Our social programming is to rely on others’ reactions and the way social media portrays success and happiness. The world is portrayed as success, happiness, love, and everything going according to plan...we assume, that if our life is not portraying this picture, we have failed.
We assume, everyone is watching our life and literally waiting for us to not live up to this picture and then judge us...let me ask you this, are you monitoring your friends and family’s life and waiting for them to make a mistake, waiting for them not to be successful...of course not...you are living your life...so why do you want to assume that EVERYONE is looking at your life and are rejoicing in your challenges.
When we let go of our assumptions we allow ourselves to park the emotions and look at the facts for what they are and build from there...
The third reason why we feel as if we have failed is our childhood programming
Let me elaborate. I had a client who was a top performer in everything she did, she came to see me, depressed, not feeling good enough, and like a complete failure.
She is a sought-after executive, successful, and is in a happy relationship. She enrolled for her MBA and failed one of her subjects, due to work commitments which did not allow enough time to prepare for the exams.
She felt like an utter failure...
On further consultations, I could show her that her childhood programming was blurring her judgment, and the fact that she has failed the subject was merely circumstantial.
Her parents demanded a competitive nature and made her feel loved only when she performed as a top 3 candidate. Now, years later she feels unloved, useless, and disappointed from feedback. Instead of seeing it as an opportunity to re-direct and confidently step up to do what works for her.
I want to leave you with one last thought...you are not the expectation, assumption or the perceived disappointment, but you are a strong individual that never gives up, you are doing your best with what you have and you can conquer whatever you put your mind to it...this is just feedback, not failure.