Embrace Failure and Invite It Over For Dinner
Fear of failure is one of the most common reasons why people don’t pursue their lofty goals and dreams. Raise your hand if you’ve allowed the idea of failure to stop you from starting that business, launching that blog, getting that degree, making that career transition, etc. We think thoughts like
I don’t want to start something unless I know for sure that it’s going to work...
What if nobody buys my product...
What if nobody engages with my content...
The thing is, you’ll never know until you start. If you become fearless in the pursuit of your dreams, I can guarantee that you will be unstoppable. Once you adopt the belief that failure is a part of the process, the thought of failing at something won’t scare you. You’ll be able to embrace failure, become friends with it, and invite it over for dinner.
All of the greats have experienced HUGE failures at least once or twice. Take Issa Rae for example...during her web-series days, she had the opportunity to sell a show to Shondaland. In case you don’t know who I’m talking about, I’m referring to THEEEE Shonda Rhimes...the woman responsible for Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How To Get Away With Murder. Clearly, I stan for Shonda but anywho...Issa sold a show titled “I Hate LA Dudes” . For a web-series girl like Issa, having the opportunity to pitch and sell a show to Shondaland, meaning her show will also be on ABC, is a HUGE opportunity.
Fast forward, Issa and her team began writing scripts and developing the pilot. ABC execs could not get behind the vision of the show and Issa was not willing to compromise her artistry...can’t say I blame her. Because of the discourse, the pilot was rejected and, at this point in her career, Issa is now back at square 1. Fast forward, HBO reached out to Issa to pitch some ideas for a new series they wanted to create. One of those ideas stuck and we all know it as the award-winning series “Insecure”.
From this story, I gather (and somewhat assume because I don’t know Issa personally) is that she was able to receive all of the success that she’s experiencing now because she was consistent, resilient, and ultimately, unafraid to fail. At the time, I could imagine that she felt like a failure and probably wanted to give up. Think about it, she got so far in the process...put in all that work...only to get rejected. I’d be pissed. I’m talking 38 hot.
But, if she wasn’t resilient enough to keep going, one of my favorite shows would have never been created. And I can only imagine all of the other things that she’s going to create in the future because of this connection she now has with HBO.
Consistency, over time, should produce a high-level quality of your work. Simply put, practice makes better. Note that I did not say perfect. I don’t believe anything is ever perfect however, I do believe that by being consistent and investing time in your craft, overtime, things get better. What happens is, your abilities will adjust to meet your goals and what you hope to accomplish. Like when you’re learning how to ride your bike, you have to fall and bust ya knee caps a couple of times to learn how to ride it properly. At some point, your brain is gonna be like, “ok, enough of this ish...we gon ride this bike the right way tuhday.” And then boom, you’re the next Lance Armstrong. Consistency also shows that you’re committed and dedicated to your work. Going back to the Issa scenario, had she stop creating content after experiencing a big failure, she probably wouldn’t have gotten noticed by HBO.
Furthermore, you gotta learn how to turn your L’s into lessons. That phrase is more than just a catchy song lyric. It’s a way of life. Every failure or loss should teach you something. But in order to identify/learn the lesson, you gotta be able to accept failure for what it is (a necessary part of the process) so that you’re able to look at the bigger picture. I’m talking about elevating your thinking and perspective so that you can see your situation from a 30,000 foot level. You can’t see the big picture if you’re on the ground and hyperfocused on the fact you failed. Nah, you gotta look at your failed situation and say...
“Ok, what is life trying to teach me right now?”
“How can I leverage this situation for my good?”
Will Smith talks a lot about the necessity of failure. He says that it’s important to fail early, fail often, and fail forward. It’s about taking risks and making the leaps. Those things that you want to pursue, but you’re too afraid to do it because of the fear of failure...I say do it anyway. Will you fail? Probably so. And guess what...you’re going to be fine. Understand that failure is not a “bad thing”. Let’s say you take a shot at entrepreneurship and fail horribly. That means you’re one step closer to figuring out exactly what you’ll need to do to be your own kind of success. It means that you’re one step closer to being the you that you’re called to be. It means that you’re one step closer to making an impact in your community and abroad.
Here’s to embracing our failures, learning the lessons, trying again, and eventually succeeding.