Why "Failures" Are Your Hidden Super Powers: Part 3

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Spread Your Sunshine Founder Melanie S. Griffin, Esq. recently addressed the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) Thomas M. Cooley – Tampa Bay Chapter regarding Why “Failures” Are Your Hidden Superpowers. This presentation focused on why you should not be afraid of "failing," and instead, embrace that sometimes things will not turn out as planned, remember that no one has a 100% failure rate (including *you*!), change your definition of “failure,” learn from and do not dwell on challenging experiences, and have a game plan for them. While this program was presented to FAWL, almost the entire discussion applies to graduate students and professionals across all industries. It is therefore hoped that Part 3 of this three-part series focused on 12 Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Failure helps fabulous YOU as you do the hard work on these issues and make the changes necessary to shine your brightest.

12 Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Failure

While, as touched on in Parts 1 and 2 of this three-part series, a certain amount of apprehension will always accompany new challenges, the following strategies will reduce your uncertainty and give you the courage needed to pursue your dreams.  

1. Change Your Definition of “Failure”

“Failure” is not a defeating, embarrassing miss, but a challenging experience from which we learn and grow.

2. Tell Negative Self-Talk to “Take a Hike!”

Just like your mind is uplifted by a positive quote, it believes you when you indulge in negative self-talk. For example, if you tell yourself that you cannot reach a desired goal, such as, for example, raising $5K for your favorite charity, you are far less likely to achieve it, as your mind believes and fulfills your negative self-prophecy. So, shut down negative self-talk by practicing self-love, replacing your self-deprecating mindset with a positive outlook, and channeling your ability to overcome the challenges you face. By practicing such healthy habits, you will be happier and far more likely to crush the goals you set for yourself, such as by, in the example here, finding unique ways to attract donors, such as through t-shirt fundraising.

3. Be a Cheerleader for Your Colleagues

I do not know about you, but little causes me more anxiety than finishing a project, submitting it, and receiving zero feedback. Was the project received? Liked? Disliked? When there is radio silence, it is easy to assume the worst.

Given this, it is important to not just think someone is doing a great job, but to tell them. Your acknowledgment is the difference between experiencing self-doubt and feeling self-worth. Without your feedback, others do not realize how much you appreciate their hard work. With it, they have boosted self-esteem and confidence.

To enhance these feelings, celebrate incremental progress. Doing so allows the recipient of your praise to internalize your statements and believe in their successes. Likewise, focusing on effort and progress, not outcome, will help others celebrate their milestones instead of having an “all or nothing” mentality only focused on the end result.

4. Welcome & Seek Out Constructive Feedback​

Feedback is an opportunity for growth, not a criticism of your performance. It should therefore be elicited often to help you maximize your potential, especially when feedback is available from a trusted mentor before a project is submitted to a broader audience.

When receiving feedback, view it as at least a partial truth even if you disagree with it. Something you did caused at least one person to view your action differently than you intended. Being receptive to feedback alerts you to potential weaknesses, allowing you to address and move on from them more quickly.

5. Extend Grace to Everyone, Including You

Treat everyone in your life as a “customer.” From fur babies, to clients, to colleagues, to family and friends, create a fantastic “experience” for everyone with whom you interact by giving them your full attention and acting as you want to be remembered.

One way to make a good impression is to operate from a place of understanding, not judgment. For example, instead of immediately assuming the worst when someone misses a deadline or no-shows to a meeting, take a deep breath and consider all the possibilities before acting. While it is possible that the responsibility was intentionally shirked, it is most likely that there is a reasonable explanation for, and solution to, the situation. Showing that you care about the circumstances avoids creating unnecessary animosity and curries better favor with the community you want to love and support.

When extending grace, do not forget that it should also be extended to you. Forgiving yourself is hard. So hard, in fact, that you may dwell on personal “failures” for which you would immediately forgive others. Giving yourself grace and moving on from disappointments, however, will allow you to focus on new ideas instead of fixating on the negative. Do not let *you* be the obstacle holding *you* back.

6. Delegate & Ask For Help

The fear of failure is associated with behaviors like perfectionism and workaholism, which are not strengths about which to brag, but rather, a lack of confidence for which you are trying to overcompensate by making everything “just right.” Disrupt this cycle by delegating your to-do’s and admitting when help is needed. Although many of us are hesitant to request favors, the number of times our requests will be denied is overestimated 2-to-1. Instead, the opposite is true - people generally want to assist and asking for help establishes the best connections, as the helper feels invested in your outcome, not annoyed by your need for assistance. So, the next time an extra set of hands would be helpful, ask for them – your request is a blessing, not a burden.

7. Intentionally Curate Your Team

The five people with whom you spend the most time have the biggest influence on your mindset. Do the members of your community encourage you to be your best self? Are they a support network? Do they provide mentorship? If any member of your inner-circle does not fulfill these requirements, they are holding you back and you should make a change.

8. Schedule Your Day for Mental Success

Every day can be successful with the right mindset. To create a framework for positivity, refrain from checking your email and social media accounts first thing in the morning. Instead, begin your day with an activity like journaling what you will accomplish or envisioning how you will react if a situation goes as planned? Worse? Better?

Reserve part of your day to exercise. Whether it is hitting the gym, completing an online class, or walking around your house during periodic breaks, you will benefit from the extra endorphins.

To best focus on and achieve your priority tasks, ignore your inbox for at least 60% of the day. Without your emails constantly in front of you, you can proactively accomplish your goals instead of spending your day reacting to others’ “emergencies.”

As a part of this practice, limit your screen time, including putting your cell phone to bed at night. Both your mind and your eyes are worthy of rest, so give them the time they need to relax and recover.

9. Plan to Succeed, Not Fail

Think about it - if no one has a 100% failure rate, why is it that we only think about failure when planning for the future? We fill our heads with “what if?” scenarios detailing the many ways that we could fail instead of focusing on how we could succeed. Stop dwelling on worst-case scenarios, and instead, think about what you *will* accomplish. Even if the ultimate goal is not reached, you will accomplish more with a growth mindset than you will when worrying.

10. Ferociously Pursue Lifelong Learning

Many empowerment podcasts, books, and the like share a similar theme – fearlessness. It is not that the author thinks they are invincible, it is that they know they could “fail” and pursue the opportunity anyway. Hearing these inspiring stories will give you the courage necessary to do the same. The more you know, the more you will feel ready to face your fears.

11. Ask yourself, “Can I watch someone else fulfill my dream?” 

If not, you know that the opportunity should be pursued and is a priority for you.

12. Journal/Positive Statements & Read Empowering Quotes 

Enhance your positive mindset by writing down the good stuff. Fill a journal and/or post notes around your home or office with things for which you are grateful, quotes that uplift you, and whatever else makes you smile throughout the day.

Final Thoughts

To view and listen to this presentation in its entirety, please click here or on the video below.

Is there anything you want to hear more about from Spread Your Sunshine?! We’re sure you do, so please share your ideas with us by emailing Melanie at Melanie@SpreadYourSunshine.com or by sending Spread Your Sunshine a message via FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, or Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together we are strongest.

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