by Melanie Benson Strick
Have you ever worried about looking bad to your peers? Most business owners I know want to put their best work forward but not taking action because of your fear of making a mistake is a costly mindset issue.
I once had a question from a client that surprised me with this question, “What do you do to not look bad when you are getting started?”
My response was, “If you are worried about looking bad you are in the wrong line of work.”
Every uber-successful entrepreneur I know has screwed up royally at some time or another. Call it failure, experiments, breakdowns or whatever you want but if you haven’t had at least one massive failure then you are probably playing it too safe.
I’m not saying that making big mistakes is easy – I’m saying that when you make a mistake you are attaining one of the most important mindsets of top performers…
“Failing is part of the process of seeking success.”
If you are really committed to your success then you will have failures. Study any game-changer, thought leader or visionary who makes it to the big time and you’ll discover that they have 100 failures to their one big success. By allowing themselves to fail they gained valuable information that helped them reshape their vision and fine-tune their actions to achieve a successful outcome.
So here’s a potential mindset shift: this is an opportunity to reprogram lifetimes of bad programming you’ve received – to not avoid failure but to seek it out!
Are you still breathing? For some personality types this will feel like walking yourself to the edge of a cliff and jumping – without a safety net! We are not all capable of taking big risks. That’s why some people make better employees than entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs MUST cultivate confidence with seeking out opportunities to fail. Here are a few reasons why:
- Failure means you are learning and growing. If you aren’t learning and growing then you are stagnating.
- When we fail at something we identify things we are not good at or don’t like to do.
- Persistence is strengthened when faced with obstacles. To sustain high levels of success this is an essential trait.
- Failing keeps our ego in check. Nothing like a good failure to bring us back into humility.
- Not achieving something strengthens us. That saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true.
- Know that sometimes the purpose and power of failure is to realign back to your truth.
Back in my corporate career days, I set my sights on a big career move. This position was coveted by many and I just knew it would propel my career forward. I didn’t get the job and at the time I saw it as a huge failure. My mind changed to one of gratitude though when I realized that the entire project team was spending more than half of their life commuting back and forth every day. I realized I had been “spared” from an overwhelming and toxic work situation.
When Should Failure Be Avoided?
Sometimes it does make sense to avoid a sizable failure. If a failure would cause you to lose something valuable to you (like a marriage), put you in undue emotional stress, or derail you unnecessarily from a sure-thing then it might be worth exploring some risk mitigation strategies to lessen the impact.
Decide what you are willing to risk and design a filtering process to factor out avoidable mistakes.
So here’s the big question for your growth as an entrepreneur.
What needs to shift for you to be willing to fail more? Here are some ideas:
1. Shift your story about failure from a negative to a positive. Make a new decision that when you fail you are actually getting closer to your goals.
2. Challenge yourself to take on ONE new venture that feels scary (you don’t need to do 17 at once…)
3. Explore an area in your life where you feel like you are holding yourself back. Decide to do the opposite of what you normally do for 3 weeks to challenge your comfort zone.
4. Evaluate your current business for where you are fighting to keep things the same versus innovating and challenging the status quo.
And last, when you do fail (and you will) remember what you used to do when you fell off your bike. Get back up, shake it off, and don’t do what you did to fall off the bike again!
Melanie Benson is known as America’s Leading Small Business Optimizer because she knows how to boost profits and results with her secret weapon — LEVERAGE. With over 12 years in corporate project management, Melanie works exclusively with thought leaders and visionary entrepreneurs who want proven strategies to monetize their big ideas and catapult their success without giving up their life.
Melanie is host of the Amplify Your Success Podcast, author of Rewired for Wealth, serves on the Executive Leadership Team for Women Speakers Association, is co-author of Entrepreneur.com’s Start Up Guide to Starting an Information Marketing Business and has her success tips featured in magazines such as Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Parenting Magazine, Woman’s Day and American Express FORUM. Melanie is a proud lifestyle enthusiast and spends her free time in search of the best spas and beaches in the world.