Beginner’s Guide: How to Fail the Right Way (Seriously!)
Dear Perfectionists, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but failure is inevitable. Since it’s an unavoidable fact of life, you might as well learn how to get really good at it. (Yes, I’m actually serious!)
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One of my favorite homework assignments to give clients is to “Fail on Purpose”. The first time I gave this assignment was to a girl who really wanted a job, but was putting off her applications because she was afraid she wouldn’t get hired. So I suggested that she go ahead and get the rejection out of the way by purposely blowing an interview. After she realized that I wasn’t kidding, we had a lot of fun dreaming up ways for her to fail spectacularly.
Honestly, I didn’t expect her to go through with it. I thought just laughing about it would take the edge off of her fear. But that girl went and did it! She had me cracking up telling me all about the interview at her next session. Even funnier, she ended up getting the job! Let me tell you, her fear of failure was completely gone after that! Here are a couple of lessons I think we can all learn from this situation so that we can also become spectacular at failure.
1. Start with something low risk
My client didn’t show up to interview for her dream job in sweatpants, ok? If you’re sure you’re going to fail on your first try, maybe start with something small. You’ll get better with practice and gain the confidence you need to go after what you really want next time.
2. Do some planning
My client really put some effort into her failure! But keep in mind that she could have put that same effort into interviewing well if fear hadn’t gotten in her way. She could have researched the company and practiced interview questions. The interviewer was able to look past the bad manners and flip flops to see my client’s qualifications. Imagine what they would have seen if she had tried to do well! That’s what we want for her next interview.
3. Just do it
I love that my client just went for it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t let all of the ways it can go wrong stop you. Take a deep breath and do it.
If this something that you have difficulty with, make sure to follow me! I post a lot of tips on how to get past those kind of obnoxious thoughts.
4. DON’T TAKE FAILURE PERSONALLY
An attempt may be a failure, but you are not. This is a very important distinction! A failed attempt does not make you a failure! If anything makes a person a failure, it’s giving up or settling.
5. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
Sometimes when we hear a phrase too often, it starts to lose all meaning. So I’ll say that one again. Learn from your mistakes. That does not mean don’t ever make a mistake again. You are absolutely going to make a mistake again. What it does mean is, brainstorm how you can avoid making the same mistake on your next try. Even though my client’s interview ended in a job offer, I’m guessing she’ll be leaving the sweat pants at home for the next one!
6. IT’S NOT A FAILURE UNTIL YOU QUIT
Comedian Kevin Hart said this, and it’s one of my favorite quotes. It’s okay to keep trying. It’s okay to fail over and over. If it matters to you, if you want it, don’t quit!
So that’s it! You might think I’m crazy, but what I’ve learned is that failure is not only unavoidable, it’s actually kind of awesome. If you’re failing, it means you’re challenging yourself and trying new things. If you haven’t failed at something this week, that tells me that you aren’t pushing yourself! So what is it going to be? What are you willing to fail spectacularly at this week? Whatever it is, go for it!