Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Do you block SUCCESS if you’re scared to fail? It’s ridiculous, but trying to avoid what worries you can impede succeeding. Before being published, I made excuses for not going after a book deal. The truth was, I was terrified my dreams would evaporate if editors didn’t like my writing. It felt better to write than to pursue a publisher. Fear of rejection choked me.

Failure sounds awful on the surface. It represents shattered dreams.

I talked about getting published but never sent a manuscript out. It took years to develop enough confidence to do it. Failure teaches. When twenty publishers passed on my second book, I found an agent who helped me rewrite my proposal and got a GOOD deal two weeks later.

Before I was published, I made excuses for not trying to get a book deal. The truth was, I was terrified that if editors didn’t like my writing, my dreams would evaporate. It felt better to go through the motions of working on my books than to pursue a deal. The thought of being rejected in the bigger picture of my career kept me stuck. So I wrote and talked about getting published but didn’t even send my manuscripts to editors or try to get an agent.

It took years to develop enough confidence in my ability to write well before I pursued a deal. I still got rejected by many editors but by then I’d learned that failures are stepping stones to SUCCESS. It’s hard to succeed if you don’t fail sometimes too. Failures teach us. When one of my books was turned down by 20 publishers, I found an agent who gave me tips in presenting the concepts better in the proposal. I got a deal two weeks later. It made me better at what I do.

SUCCESS is NOT avoiding failure. By conquering fears, we give ourselves permission to succeed.

Hannah came to me for self-empowerment counseling because she felt no joy. She’s a graphic designer and wanted to open her own business. Before taking a full time gig she tried, but couldn’t find enough clients. Then she went the other extreme. Nights and weekends were filled with freelance clients along with a full time day job. Friends advised quitting her job but she was afraid of failure for her own biz. I asked when she’d get a life. She indignantly insisted she had one. I pointed out she left no time for pleasure.

Hannah looked at me like I’d thrown water on her. She was so busy with a full time job and trying to juggle an almost full time business that she had no down time. Or fun! She said she was afraid her business would fail. We did spiritual exercises and she focused on how many clients she already had. After we worked together, she gave notice at work and let clients know about her now full time business. Recommendations came and Hannah’s life is fun and satisfying!

Hannah learned she needed to develop clients by proving herself to be good. Then she was able to attract enough client to have a business. I encouraged her not to beat herself up for waiting so long. She had to prove to herself that she could do it. That meant doing graphic design for another company, and having private clients return and recommend others. That gave her the confidence to fly on her own.

You’re not a failure, IF you learn from what went wrong.

Think in terms of roadblocks to be overcome instead of the dreaded “F” word. Separate failing at something from seeing yourself as a failure. You can move past failures by continuing onto SUCCESS. But, thinking of yourself as a failure puts invisible shackles on your motivation to move forward. It’s important not to let your actions and experiences define you! Many of us need a kick to realize how fear of failure keeps you from succeeding! Avoiding failure keeps you from taking the risks needed to succeed.

So you self-sabotage achieving SUCCESS by letting fear of failure stop you from going for it.

Think in terms of roadblocks that can be overcome instead of giving in to thoughts of the dreaded “F” word. It’s so important not to let your actions and experiences define you! Reinterpret what happened and put it into a more realistic framework. You can help yourself to not feel like a failure and to grow from your experiences if you reframe situations and grow from your experiences by asking:
• What would I say to a friend in this situation to make her or him feel better?
• Are there any earth shattering consequences that will ruin my life?
• Am I willing to let a momentary failure ruin my whole life?
• What didn’t I pay attention to?
• What did I do well or right?
• What one thing do I now see that I could have done differently?
• What are better options for handling a similar situation?
• What baby step can I take to begin again?
• What would it take for me to accept that a mistake doesn’t make me a failure?

If you take a failure personally, get into the habit of telling yourself to stop it—out loud! Keep what doesn’t go right in perspective. Do you try to succeed, or just avoid failure? When you focus on not failing, you stay in a rut. Get out there are go for SUCCESS instead!

In the last years I’ve been a pillar of non-failure. Yep, not one failure in many years. Are you jealous? Hello! You can live failure-free too. Memorize this – IF YOU DON’T QUIT, YOU CAN’T FAIL!!! I never fail if I don’t stop trying. Mistakes don’t mean failure. They teach you what doesn’t work. Thomas Edison said, “Results! Why man I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that don’t work.” Look what he accomplished! If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough! If what you try doesn’t work, you have no less than before. Not being afraid to try is an accomplishment! Appreciate that and try again.

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