Your Relationship With Failure

Your Relationship With Failure Is Critical To Your Success.




I am British, and in our culture we have an ingrained fear of failure, it is something that is looked down upon and despised.

Over the course of my business career I have enjoyed a certain amount of success, but I have also endured a considerable amount of failure - or deferred success as I prefer to see it.

Some years ago I was being mentored by a man who had achieved considerable business and financial success in the oil business - he had closed 9 major fuel contracts and made millions.

I recall once having a conversation one day when I asked him what he thought was the key to his success.

He told me something that has stayed with me through every failure I have experienced since then. He said:

"Stephen, one of the key things that has contributed to my success is that I am prepared to fail more times than everyone else in this line business."



    The thought that you could fail can really slow you down.

    But the problem
    is not the failure,  the problem is your relationship with failure.








The Story Of Walt Disney's Spectacular Failure



The following story was part of an article written by personal development blogger Steve Pavlina who is someone whose work I have considerable respect for, and it is republished here with consent.


*******************


July 17, 1955 was the grand opening of Disneyland.

It was restricted attendance press preview day, and it was a spectacular failure.

Here are some of the things that happened that day:

  • Gate Crashers - Disney was expecting 11,000 guests but 28,000 people showed up. Some wise-guy sold thousands of counterfeit tickets, and another fixed up a ladder in the back of the park and charged people $5 to creep in that way.
  • Horrendous Traffic -  So many people tried  to reach Disneyland that it caused a 7-mile tail back on the Santa Ana Freeway. 
  • The Asphalt Melted And Women's Shoes Stuck To It - It was a very hot day at 100 degrees (38 C), so hot it melted the fresh asphalt on Main Street into a sticky tar that ensnared women’s high-heeled shoes.
  • Guests Got Wet Paint On Their Clothes -  Some paint on the attractions wasn’t fully dry, and  people were getting it on their clothes.
  • They Ran Out Of Food - Because the crowds were so large the food stalls and restaurants ran out of food by lunchtime.
  • They Didn't Have Enough Drinking Water Fountains - A plumbers' strike pre-opening delayed the installation of sufficient fountains.
  • The Rides Kept Breaking Down - Because of the heat and the unexpectedly large crowds, many of the rides broke down multiple times.
  • The Riverboat Nearly Sank - The Mark Twain riverboat was so overloaded with guests that it ran low in the water, and nearly sank.


The park press had a field day and trashed the park in their reviews, referring to it as Black Sunday.

After that disastrous opening Disneyland still had more teething problems in the first few weeks. But they increasingly got a lot of things right as they fixed the problems.

It became a work in progress.

This story is a powerful metaphor for our lives too.



    Just because you have a spectacular failure doesn’t mean the game is over.









Imagine being Walt Disney on Disneyland’s grand opening day:

  • Tons of press are there.
  • The park bears your name.
  • It’s been a 20-year journey to evolve your vision for a theme park into a reality.
  • You’ve struggled endlessly just to get the financing in place, and then there were even more struggles to get the place designed and built.
  • So many people have doubted you, including your brother and business partner Roy.
  • You’ve been preparing for and anticipating this glorious day for a long time.
  • And then some asshole screws up your plans by making thousands of counterfeit tickets, and your people can’t tell the real tickets from the fake ones.
  • Your plans for a wonderful opening start falling apart right before your eyes, and all the attention and the cameras are on you – not to mention all the investors who want to know whether investing in your vision was a good idea.



    And what do you do after a big failure?

    You shrug it off and get right back to work the next day working on your goals.

    Acknowledge and fix problems one by one.

    Keep learning and adapting.








How To Overcome Fear Of Failure

Failures happen, it's is a part of life:

  • While other people may make a huge deal out of it, is it really that big of a deal?
  • You needn’t retreat and slink away in shame.
  • Be proud that you failed. 
  • So many people are too cowardly to even try working on something meaningful.
  • They talk themselves out of pursuing bold ideas before they begin.
  • They treat the prospect of failure as a reason to quit before they start.

Many of Walt Disney’s ideas had to be scrapped and replaced.

But the death of a project doesn’t have to kill the big picture vision.

You can fail a lot with your projects, but your big picture goal can remain intact and achievable.

Some ideas and projects along the way will be dead ends, and you’ll have to let them go.

Don’t equate the failure of your projects with the death of your long-term goal.

It will happen. You’ll rack up plenty of failures if you do anything interesting in life.

Let each failure be a badge of honour.



    A good failure is a powerful learning experience.








Next Article: Boredom - Your Greatest Threat to Results

Return from "Failure" to: Walking The Talk

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