I've wanted to write an article about failure, but I was afraid it would suck.

I've wanted to write an article about failure, but I was afraid it would suck.

Have you ever looked up the word "fail" in a thesaurus? I did this for fun one afternoon several years ago and had no idea it would be so wildly entertaining. It was so humorous to me, I want to share it on my website. The definitions below are brought to you directly from the Webster's New World Pocket Thesaurus; an action packed little book that can deliver hours of personal amusement if you like words as much as I do.

Fail-v. {To be unsuccessful}fall short, miss, back out, abandon, desert, neglect, slip, lose ground, come to naught, come to nothing, falter, flounder, blunder, break down, get into trouble, fall flat, go amiss, go astray, fall down, get left, be found lacking, go down, go under, not hold a candle to, fold up, go on the rocks, not have it in one, miss the boat*, not measure up, lose out, give out, fall short of, not make the grade*, miss the mark, lose control, fall down on the job*, go wrong, be out of it, blow it*, fizzle out*, hit rock bottom, go up in smoke, bomb*, not get to first base*, get hung up*, get bogged down*, flunk out*, flop*, conk out*, peter out*, go bankrupt, go out of business, go broke.

Wow. What a list, huh? Yikes. Who would want anything to do with any of that? Maybe that's why I thought it was funny. Nervous laughter disguising sheer terror at the thought of failure.  Did I mention that the first time I stumbled upon this plethora of hilarious synonyms, I just happened to be at a National company board meeting, in the direct prescence of both my boss AND one of her peers, during a break? Thinking they might be equally amused, I read the entire list to them out loud. I was wheezing with laughter when I got to the end, and looked up to find them both staring at me with looks of utter horror and disdain. "Well," my boss said frostily, "I was hoping you were going to share something positive." I will never forget that feeling of being, well, some sort of a failure for thinking it was funny in the first place.

Bear in mind, this is the same supervisor who would bellow things like "Failure is NOT an option!" at large groups of individuals during conference calls, so it should have come as no surprise that she was not amused by my performance that day. The culture of the company was to chiefly celebrate success, and failure was typically regarded something shameful and unspeakable that should be avoided at all costs. A sort of metaphorical "eyesore" that needed to be shoved deep into the recesses of a dark and musty closet if you happened to be expecting some company and wanted to keep up appearances. This belief had engulfed me, become part of my being until just recently, to the point where feeling numbed and paralyzed to taking action had somehow been preferable to taking action that might fail. 

Fast forward several years to last month, when I attended Bill Baren's Event "The Big Shift Experience" a three day workshop with some amazing takeaways. One of the things I admired tremendously about Bill at this event was his ability to speak candidly of his many failures, and highlight the fact that his many failures led to his success. I recall a similar message when I read "Go For No" by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton, but the lesson did not resonate nearly as loudly as it did at The Big Shift Event. Bill told tales of going into a panic and downing several drinks in order to muster the courage to announce "last call for alcohol" at one of his DJ'ing gigs to the point where he slurred his words and completely bombed with just that one sentence. He recalled his first workshop where people asked "Is this going to get any better?" and some asked for their money back. It was hard to believe that the poised speaker before us had ever had those sorts of fears, or had experienced those kinds of failures. "Take imperfect action," Bill told us. "Don't be afraid to fail and then do it again and try to make it thirty percent better."

Something completely shifted within me on that weekend retreat in regards to how I viewed failure.  I recalled the incident with the thesaurus and had an epiphany. Perhaps I should have began a love affair with failure some time ago, back when I was doubled over with laughter at that board meeting, being tickled by the many synonyms and colloquialisms that define failure. Heck, though, it's never too late to embrace failure as an avenue to success. The whole thing somehow just clicked with me. Now, as an entrepreneur and Life Coach, it's becoming clear what a huge advantage making friends with failure can be, in coaching, in marketing and in everything else when it comes to business. Make failure your friend and he will introduce you to his colleague, success. Failure beats paralysis any day, and as I learned in Life Coaching class "Perfect is the enemy of done." Forget the old guard adage about failure not being an option. The successes in life belong to those who are not afraid to fail. 

(By the way, if you think this blog post truly sucks and is an epic failure, I welcome your feedback. I will happily rewrite it and try to make it thirty percent better.)

Stop looking for Love!

Stop looking for Love!