Embrace the Opportunity to Fail
Yes, I know that this doesn’t really sound good. Failure is an “F” word"
I’d like you to think about it from this perspective though. With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, no team goes into the season believing that they are going to fail. Some may have a better chance than others. But I believe that all take the field for the first practice and the first game believing that they can win.
Why do some teams succeed why others fail? A better plan. More talent. Often times, an unpredictable but well timed gust of wind. But I am convinced that many times, the team holding up the trophy after the final seconds tick off the clock is the one where individuals came together as a team, laying it all on the line, stepping out of their comfort zone, reaching a bit farther than they have in the past because:
“I don’t want to be the reason we failed.”
Those that push farther are willing to accept the reality that they may fail. Not just the team, but that the individual effort may not be good enough to challenge the sudden gust of wind, and that the loss will be placed squarely on that individual’s shoulders. Imagine waking up the next morning for the “Monday morning quarterbacks” to attack YOU for what you did to cost everyone the wind. Heck, today, the tweets are flying before the final throw or kick hits the ground.
The bigger the risk you take, the more you set yourself up to be judged.
The reality is, if you don’t embrace the "opportunity to fail", you aren’t taking the risks you need to in order to succeed.
I have talked about failure before and am often challenged with “you shouldn’t plan to fail”, or tell people that it is ok to fail. No one should PLAN to fail, that has never been my point. You don’t want to accept no win situations, where failure is the only option (though at times in life, you may find yourself in this position regardless). But if there is a chance that you can push forward an extra yard, kick the ball a bit farther, reach out your fingertips and make that one handed catch, deep down inside you know you may fail, but you stretch yourself anyways. Because you want the feeling of holding up the trophy a few seconds later.
This isn’t about football. It really is about life.
Play it safe with your marketing strategy, you will get a tight margin of error with little upside. Play it safe with your project and try to please everyone, you will limit your opportunity for success. Stay within your comfort zone and you limit your opportunity for growth, personally and professionally.
This is not written by someone who is comfortable taking risks. I am far from that person. The reality is, often times I am filled with self doubt. Fear of failure. Of being called out as a failure, having blame placed squarely on my shoulders, with the “Monday morning quarterbacks” taking their jabs as I sit battered, bruised, and embarrassed. But you know what? What I have discovered is that the opportunity to push forward, to come from behind and win a game that no one expected that we would win….it is worth it!
This isn’t about me though.
What I have also come to realize that my real opportunity isn’t reaching out for the ball myself, but instead coaching and supporting those who do. A daughter who pushes forward each day with every new challenge, filled with self doubt but summoning the courage to overcome it. A wife who fights through the pain to improve her physical wellness and steps out of her comfort zone to build a business where others have failed. A "mentee" who may seem confident on the outside, but struggles with being heard, with being accepted. A team that knows they are going to be challenged when something goes wrong, but knowing that without their stepping forward to take the risks, we will never see the reward.
My favorite role today is often standing on the sidelines, cheering loudly over the noise of the crowd when the game turns in our favor. Or being the first person to grab someone's shoulder and say “you did your best, we will get them next time” when the seconds run out against us.
That is worth embracing.