In our society, the worst thing you can be is a failure. Try something, sure, but make sure that you’re successful to avoid the embarrassment of failure. It’s quite a conundrum and such a taboo that most people are afraid to try, lest they fail later on.
We believe in the power of failing hard, failing forward, and failing often. Being open and honest about your failures is great; it shows that you aren’t ashamed of the path you’re taking. It’s sometimes easier said than one, though, especially when people around you won’t be able to hide their disappointment. Learning how to be comfortable in your failures, and actually try without the fear of failing can take some time.
Some of the most successful women in the world have overcome huge failures to get to where they are now, so don’t lose faith – everybody fails, just pick yourself back up and keep going!
FAILURE: BEING FIRED
Being fired is considered the ultimate failure. You’d be forgiven for coming out in a nervous sweat just at the thought. However, Anna Wintour’s greatest ‘failure’ was being fired from her job as a stylist at Harper’s Bazaar US. “I was told I would never understand the American market,” she explained, “I think everyone should be fired; I think it’s character-building.”
While Anna being fired from her job may have, at the time, been a bad thing, it turned out to give her the confidence she needed to get her eventual job as Editor In Chief of Vogue and becoming the most powerful woman in fashion.
HOW TO OVERCOME IT:
Get back on your planning horse and decide how you’re going to keep going. Anna could have agreed with the person who fired her and decided that, yes, she will never understand the American market. She could have left America and started somewhere else, but instead, she got her head in the game and made her way to the job that changed her life. Having a plan of attack for the next steps is the only way to make a change.
FAILURE: SOLO VENTURE
After the success of the Spice Girls, Victoria believed that she could go it alone. And why not? The research showed people liked her when she was part of the Spice Girls, but actually, a few things worked against her. The somber personality that the girl group set up for her made her less than likable, and her songs weren’t greatly received. When she decided to go into fashion some years later, people laughed. How can the very definition of a WAG know anything about high fashion? And yet, her brand is one of the most respected around and compliments the public perception of her well.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar magazine, she said: ”People never believed the solo singing career, and it wasn’t the real me – I was a little bit lost at the time. I don’t mind making mistakes. I just can’t live with anyone else’s mistakes. I’m a complete control freak. I’m not the easiest person to work with because I’m so passionate and being a working mum, it’s a balancing act.”
HOW TO OVERCOME IT:
When you attempt to go it alone, and it fails, it can be daunting. The thing to do is to look at it objectively. What can you learn about yourself that you wouldn’t have learned if you hadn’t failed? Instead, make a list of all the things you learned about yourself in the process. Victoria learned that singing wasn’t the real her, and wasn’t where her passions lay, is there something you can learn from a venture that doesn’t make it off the ground?
FAILURE: MAKING MISTAKES
Jennifer Lopez has it all now, a great career in acting and singing, ageless looks, and family and friends who adore her. She’s pretty open that she wouldn’t have everything she has now without making the wrong choices down the line, agreeing to things that didn’t work for her, or that other people consider to be failures.
When asked about the career mistakes she’d made in the past, she said, “I look at them now, and I think, ‘you really just ploughed through those,’ you know? That’s the thing – you can’t stop, you have to keep on going. Failure is not falling down and making a mistake, or choosing the wrong movie, or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time; it’s stopping. Stopping is the failure. Not continuing forwards is the failure, not keeping going. All you can do is know where you want to go and take steps every single day in that direction.”
HOW TO OVERCOME IT:
Jennifer is right. You have to keep going. The real failure is stopping and deciding that this path isn’t for you, or that one mistake or failure means something terrible. It doesn’t. Keep going until you find your path, and even then, your path will be littered with mistakes and failures all along the way. Grab a notebook like the Make It Happen notebook and write down some of the ways you’ll bounce back. You can treat yourself, list your best qualities, figure out what your next step will be, and find your own way to keep going after making a mistake.
FAILURE: STAYING IN BAD JOB
In her book, Michelle talks about how she spent a big portion of her time, striving for greatness. Striving for a gold star, hoping to become the best version of what she thought she should be. She did exactly what she was supposed to do, getting a career in law and sticking at it when she really didn’t feel as though it fulfilled her.
She tells a story about how she shared her private worries with her mother, “So I shared with her in the car: I’m just not happy. I don’t feel my passion,” Obama said. “And my mother — my uninvolved, live-and-let-live mother — said, ‘Make the money, worry about being happy later.’ I was like [gulps], Oh. OK. Because how indulgent that must have felt to my mother.”
HOW TO OVERCOME IT:
While Michelle took her mother’s advice and stayed at her job, she eventually realized that she would have to hold her hands up and fail at this one thing. Leave this job and do something else that fulfilled her. “Failure is a part of learning,” Obama said. “Part of continuous learning is failure, regardless of your race. If you are going to lead, if you’re going to have any sign of success, you have to be prepared to fail.”
You can always make a plan for how you’re going to change your circumstances. Nobody will force you to stay in a situation that makes you unhappy, and though others might not understand it, you can make a plan to change your circumstances and see it through. Write down your monthly plan in the Goals 2019 Diary and give yourself the space to change your life.
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