If you have some down time, this time of year can be a good opportunity to review the past 12 months and set some plans and goals for 2023. But, before you go there, I wanted to re-publish this essay from a couple of years ago about reframing failure. Reframing expectations can improve your outlook and motivation — and finding your motivation makes the entire process of setting goals and striving to reach them possible.
Fear of Failure
Oftentimes, a business owners’ fear of failure can hold them back. In order to move forward with your business and grow it into what it can be, it’s important to overcome those fears. But how do you do that?
I want you to put on your Dog Trainer hat
Dog trainers often talk about the dogs’ mistakes as being useful information in training. As you are training your dog, you have a goal behavior, you make a plan, and you start training. You increase criteria and eventually you may reach a point where your dog makes a mistake — fails to respond to a cue, doesn’t perform the behavior. One of the things I love about R+ training is that it takes the emotion out of those kinds of failures. Rather than responding with disappointment or frustration, we meet the error with curiosity and even gratitude. Instead of responding with judgment and name-calling (“He blew me off,” “lazy,” “dominant”), which creates frustration or makes us give up, we think, “Oh, interesting! He can’t do that behavior in this location/at this distance/with that distraction.” and we use that information to adjust our plan and improve it and build towards success. The “mistake” gives the trainer information, which the trainer uses to adjust the plan and move forward again successfully.
Here is a dilemma: most of us don’t treat ourselves with the same kindness when it comes to our own business or career goals.
When you have a goal, do you make a plan and implement it, working diligently, step by step to reach it? When you fail at something, do you view the experience as useful information, welcoming failure as a “teachable” moment? Too often, people personalize failure and fill it with judgment and emotion, which then impedes their ability to progress.
What if we realized and embraced the fact that failure is a necessary part of reaching our goals? That every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve our plan so we can move forward more quickly and efficiently?
While as animal trainers we strive to reduce errors in the animal’s learning process, as entrepreneurs we are formulating our own plans; and because we are not omniscient our plans are not going be perfect and we will make mistakes. We need to make mistakes in order to find the holes in our own knowledge or behaviors or skills.
The reality is that most highly successful people fail many times before they become successful.
The reality is that it will take you many attempts to reach your success. So why not get started? Imagine what you could do if you didn’t fear failure; if instead you looked forward to the knowledge and experience you would gain. When you welcome failure as a necessary and beneficial stop on your road to success, it removes the need for perfection that can prevent you from progressing. It gives you the courage and confidence to take action and persist and do the work necessary to reach your goals.
Thank you for this fresh perspective, reframing failure as “just information” to make adjustments that will help us reach our goals.