How to Fail. Properly | Lisa Steingold

How to Fail. Properly

How to failure really
What if failure is a skill that can be utilized to put you on the path to success?

I’m facing a tough set of circumstances at the moment. I’ve failed in a few areas of my life that REALLY matter to me. And it’s hard not to feel really shitty about it. 

  • I’ve failed. 
  • This sucks…I suck 
  • Nothing is ever going to change.
  • I fail at everything (Really Lisa, I saw you quite successfully finish a gym routine this am)
  • What’s the point?

And so it goes, the relentless internal dialogue.  

Here’s an interesting thought though – and it isn’t mine but rather Sahil Bloom’s: Failure is a skill.

He says;

  • You can be weak at failure—allowing a stumble to derail your confidence, break your flow, and slow your progress.
  • You can be strong at failure—using the stumble to advance your knowledge, improve your edge, and win the next battle.

I love this thinking because it means that failure isn’t the final event but a step in the right direction. 

5 Ways to Fail, Properly

After my tough day today, I took a walk. It was that or drown myself in 6 litres of ice cream which thankfully I have done enough internal work to know it wouldn’t help. 

As I walked out the door the first though I had was this. 

1. Don’t panic!

Okay Lisa, don’t panic.

You’re failing. Yes, you know this because the data is showing you that. You haven’t reached your objectives at work. You aren’t where you want to be. 

Don’t panic.

“Most failures are micro details, not macro issues.” Sahil Bloom

The key I’ve found to NOT panicking is;

  • Do something that takes your out of your mind, and into your body. Like going for a walk, riding your bicycle or even just going to the beach. 
  • Get some time out. Go out into nature and just breathe.

2. Stop. Reflect.

The word ‘fail’ is subjective but what does it mean to fail? 

Have you truly failed or were your expectations unrealistic? This is the time to do some thorough investigation. 

  • What happened?
  • Who was involved apart from you?
  • What were your expectations?
  • What is the context?
  • Where did it go wrong?
  • Did you do your best? My friend Barney always says you never fail when you try your best.)
  • What have your learnt as a result?

Now comes the challenging part;

3. Face reality & take accountability

I have the very unfortunate and fortunate job to work in marketing, content and writing. But I suck at spelling and grammar. Literally I suck.

I have no shame in saying that. It’s just what it is. I have had to find ways to undermine the damage that this handicap plays in my day-to-day working life. (Thank you Grammarly!)

So when failure happens, there’s something to see and some accountability to be taken. 

Facing a divorce? That’s possibly the reality that you’re facing. It’s probably heartbreaking. Understandably so. Give yourself time, and go for therapy if needed. 

Then it’s time to see the part you played. When we’re involved in a situation it means we had some part to play, even if we never wanted to play it. 


4. Make a plan

Now what?

Give up? Nope! We NEVER say die

Now it’s time to plot a new course of action. 

If you keep doing what you do, you keep getting what you get. 

It’s time to do something different. 

But this ALSO means making a shift in mindset. As my sister always reminds me, you can’t go to a new destination if you keep leaving from the same platform. 

Your mind and mindset is the platform. It may take some work with a therapist or coach but a new plan of action needs to include a new mindset. At the very least, it will need a reframe of the situation. 

This can be difficult when the pain is deep but not impossible. You’ve got this!

5. Keep showing up…but differently

This will take practice. 

A lot of life is about showing up; not just once, not twice but consistently. Showing up 

To fail is to be human

When you fail. don’t think of it as the opposite of success. Just think of it as part of life. It truly is. To fail is to be human. No one would be successful without failure.

As my dad always said;

“Don’t worry you’ll get another chance to f’ck it all up tomrrow.”

So true. It’s how we learn. When you fail, you learn.

I found this post on a community post from 2016, and really loved the human empathy around it; You should take a break from trying to be perfect, remember you’re only human:)

Lastly, what went right?

This is a tough one for me because I’m generally focused on improving, on getting better. I’m having to learn to look at what’s going right. 

What went right? What did you do right? 

There’s probably alot. Celebrate the small victories so you focus your mind on the wins. 

I never believed this before but it really does work. It’s how we make success easy, we start to focus on what we’re doing right, instead of what we’re doing wrong. 

Shift your beliefs, shift your focus, and consistently do your best and watch how you begin to feel like it all just gets easier.

Wishing you the most fantastic week!

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