I believe that you only truly fail if you quit. But if you look ‘failure’ up online, the definition you’ll find is the lack of success. I think if we go by that definition, we all can admit that we’ve failed in every area of our life. In a lot of ways, life is a series of failures.
When you look at society today so many people are so afraid to fail that they don’t even start something, or they have failed before so they’re so fearful of trying something again.
I’m no stranger to failure. Look, I failed my way to the life that I have today. I failed my way to the top. I’m not where I want to be, I have a long way to go, but I feel like I’m at the top of my game. I feel like I’m constantly climbing a mountain, getting to the top and then climbing a bigger mountain again and again. Every time, I have failed my way to the top. I failed my way to the life that I wanted.
I grew up with a severe chronic illness called Crohn’s disease. Since I was two years old, I struggled with this chronic disease. When you have a chronic illness, you can’t control how you feel. There are always setbacks. When you have a flare-up, you lose 10 pounds and have to go to the hospital for a procedure. In 2009 I had a huge failure with my disease. I lost eight feet of intestine, my rectum, and my colon. It was a failure for me because that was the surgery that I had been trying to avoid and I failed. But, I flipped my perspective and I realized that this surgery saved my life.
By failing through my health, by failing forward and by staying confused a lot of the time, the lessons I learned through failing made me who I am today. I’m nobody without my Crohn’s disease. I’m nobody without my story.
You’re nobody without your story, whatever your story is. All of our lives are a series of failures, but it’s the perspective we choose to have that matters. Let’s get started on these five points.
5 Reasons to Embrace Failure in Your Life
1. Failure makes you stronger.
To achieve success, we all must develop resilience. When you don’t close the sale or when the business partnership falls through or when the relationship that you thought was the one doesn’t work out or when you have some setbacks in your health — these things that toughen your skin.
If everybody won all the time, there would be no reason to work extra hard. There would be no separation and no satisfaction.
You’re not going to win all the time. When you feel like you’re failing, you’re really building strength and character. As long as you dust yourself off and get back up in those moments of failure, it allows you to work even harder next time. Do you know what I do when I’m failing? I rework my plan a little bit, so when I come back, I’m even stronger.
I mean, I have scars all over my body from where the surgeon cut. You will have scars mentally and physically when you fail too, but if you fight through, those scars will heal stronger than before. My failures made me into the person that I am today. If you let them, they will make you stronger too – you need to believe that.
2. Failure helps you appreciate your wins.
There’s no sunshine without rain. When things don’t work out in your life and you eventually experience victories, they are that much sweeter.
One of my favourite sayings is: sometimes you have to learn to lose before you can learn to win.
I’m a huge sports fan. I follow the NHL religiously. I find it fascinating how rookies get drafted to teams. These rookies are 18, 19, 20-year-olds and in their first year in the league, some of them win the Stanley Cup. They’re excited, it means a lot, they get the Stanley Cup championship hat; but for a lot of them, that’s the only Stanley Cup they ever win. A lot of them wish they knew what a big deal it was at the time. They wish they knew how hard it was to get to the finals. If they had known, they would have appreciated it a little bit more at the moment. I love seeing the veteran players who’ve been in the league for over a decade. I love seeing them win. When a player wins in their 18th year in the league, it means so much more.
Once you’ve failed a bunch of times, the satisfaction of winning is so much better. You can appreciate the win so much more. So, remember that failure creates this feeling on the other end, when you do succeed, that you would never have unless you had experienced the failure.
3. Failure is experience – nothing more, nothing less.
People are so quick to label every experience as either good or bad. To me, it’s all just experience. When I label something a good experience, a lot of times, I’m not learning anything. I don’t learn when things are great. I learn when things are down. So to keep myself level, I call everything experience and I try to learn from everything no matter how I feel about it.
The key is to take the emotion out of it. When you attach emotion to experience, it almost always has a way of blocking the learning opportunity.
The question shouldn’t be “how bad did I fail?” or “how much did I win?” or “how much did I enjoy this experience?” The question should be, “what did I learn?”
Let’s say you’re driving to work and somebody cuts you off, honks their horn at you, starts waving their finger at you and they’re all pissed off in that moment. You have two ways you can react. The first way is you can lose your crap and start to yell back, but you’ll probably ruin the first half of your day. You still have to learn from that experience. At that moment, what you should learn is that you have a lot of personal growth left to do.
The other way you can handle it is to stay calm and collected. Wave back and just wipe it from your mind. At that moment, you learn that you’ve come a long way, that you’re a good version of yourself and that you’re not going to allow outside factors to influence you. Either way, you need to remember that experience is not good or bad; it’s just an experience. Every experience is an opportunity to learn and evaluate.
4. Failure is going to happen, no matter what.
Everything that you’re doing, reading your goals in the morning, getting up early, eating properly, doing everything you can in your relationship to make it work; at some point, it won’t be enough. At some point, your life will feel like it’s crashing in on you. It won’t matter what books you’ve been reading, or what sacrifices you’ve been making, at some point, your life will feel directionless.
Failure is going to happen. How many false starts have you had in your life? Whether it’s your health or your faith, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid failure. So you need to embrace it. I call this anticipating the challenges.
When I’m at the top of my game, it’s in those moments that I practice gratitude and I anticipate the challenges that are coming next. I know that eventually there will be a setback. If you think that if you just get over the next hurdle you’ll have 30 to 40 years of smooth sailing, you’re kidding yourself.
I’m always anticipating the dips. When I’m in my highest highs, I sit back, and I ask myself, “what could the biggest challenge that I could face?” When I figure out what that is, I think about it, anticipate it, plan for it, and then I wipe it from my mind. Then, I’m ready for the next storm. I know that if I’m at the peak, eventually I will experience a valley. The flipside is also true if I’m at rock-bottom. I know that it will get better. You have to remember that just because you’re in a rut, it doesn’t mean you will stay in a rut.
I am grateful for the ruts because I know failure is inevitable, but it’s what we do in those moments that define us.
5. Failure eliminates fear.
As long as you persevere through failure, you create certainty that you can get through anything. The flipside is also true if you fail and then give up. That feeling (like touching the stove, getting burnt and never wanting to touch it again) will follow you in other areas of your life.
There are so many people that I meet that were in our business 10-15 years ago and tell me that they regret not sticking with it. They regret quitting and walking away when things got bad. They made all of these excuses on why it wasn’t for them, that they didn’t think it was going to get this big. They know that they quit for the wrong reasons and that quitting has followed them in other areas of their life ever since. For some of them, they’ve never quite been able to get into shape, or they’ve never been able to have the relationship that they wanted. It’s because quitting in one area shows up in other areas of life.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a business, but when you fail and you don’t persevere you lose trust with yourself. When you give up, you’re breaking promises with yourself and showing that you don’t believe yourself. Let’s talk about the flip side for a second. Think of a time in your life where you failed in something, but you fought through. You can remember yourself as a champion in that moment, and you can draw from that experience and use it to help you get through anything.
Fear only exists in the future. So our capacity and our belief in ourselves to handle future challenges only develop when we choose to fail forward. By failing forward and pushing through it, you create this certainty that you can handle anything that comes your way. You almost activate the fearless warrior within yourself. It’s so powerful.
I love to fail because it makes me fearless, but it doesn’t feel good when it’s happening. In 2009, when my surgeon looked me in the eye and said, “Steve, one day you will wake up and wonder how you went so long without having the surgery.” At that moment I thought it would never happen. I thought I would never be thankful for it. Well, it’s taken me almost all of 10 years to look back and realize the blessing that surgery was and that it did save my life. For a long time, I hated myself and I hated that it happened. But when I look back on that whole experience, I’m proud that I fought through it and made it. If I can do that, then I can do anything. I can make seven figures. I can build a business. I can have the family life of my dreams. The same goes for you.
There are things you’ve gotten through in the past. Maybe you were raised by a single mom, or you fought cancer, but you got through it. You should be so grateful for that experience, and you should be so proud of the fact that you got through it. You should be so proud of yourself. If you got through that challenge or failure, chances are you can get through anything in your life. Failure eliminates fear.
Alright, those are my five points, I hope you guys got value out of them today. Even as I’m going through my points, I’m writing mental notes on the things that I need to get better at. But I appreciate you all. Please feel free to write comments and give me feedback.