7 ways to stop failing

you learn not failStarting her own stationery store had been Shelbie’s secret dream ever since she was a little girl.

Her happiest career day was leaving her “big girl” PR manager job to open her shop; her saddest day was hanging the “going out of business” sign on the front door.

The day she put out that sign, Shelbie froze, personally and professionally. She did nothing for several months except look back and wonder what she could have done differently to save her dream. Shelbie believed she was a failure.

She wasn’t. She was failing, however, in handling hitting one of life’s speed bumps.

Colliding with life change obstacles hurts big-time, just like it did when you fell off a skateboard years and years ago. And, just like you did way back then, the key to success is picking yourself up and getting back in the game.

Don’t embrace the notion you’re failing. Look at what happened as a “teachable moment.”  A way to explore, grow and learn rather than an invitation to withdraw.

If you identify with Shelbie’s situation, use these seven tips to start moving and stop the “I’m failing” mindset:

1) Find the lesson. Talk with a trusted coach, confidante or friend. Discuss your true thoughts and feelings about what happened. Don’t hold back. There’s something positive to be learned from every situation that’ll make you better next time.

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

2) Understand, not blame. Ignoring what happened or looking to find fault won’t make the situation go away or change the outcome. Focus instead on what you do well and look for opportunities where you can apply your strengths.

The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. ~Carlos Castaneda

3) Be self-aware. Take a long hard look at your reactions – are you hiding from something? Afraid of something? Worried about failing again? Figure out and fix it if you’ve overused a strength and turned it into a weakness.

O, happy the soul that saw its own faults. ~Rumi

4) Take wise risks. Expand your comfort zone. Pushing those boundaries are where life and learning really begin. Try something new. Expect bumps, bruises and setbacks along the way.

Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down. ~Ray Bradbury

5) Build bridges to the future; don’t burn those to the past. It’s a hyper-connected word. You never know when a past boss may become a future one or hold the key to a job or assignment you want, so resist the siren’s song of snarkiness.

The shaft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagle’s own plumes. We often give our enemies the means of our own destruction. ~Aesop

6) Zipper the inner critic. Analyze the situation. Then move beyond those “what if” thoughts or “maybe I should have” worries. Saying I should have, I could have, I wish I did is living your life in the rear view mirror — all looking back and no forward movement.

It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head. ~Sally Kempton

7) Keep learning and connecting. Don’t let failing become a permanent mindset. Volunteer, take a class, work out, be a mentor, network, read, write, love, laugh, and learn. Move on, add to your toolkit of skills and resources of good people willing to help.

It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning. ~Claude Bernard

The next time you’re cruising down the highway and see the road sign that reads “keep moving, change lanes later” – smile and follow the good advice.