We often hear successful entrepreneurs talk about how they’ve failed before ever succeeding. They’ll say things like, “I failed, but I got back up” and then continue to talk about all their success.
The problem is they don’t pause long enough on that moment where they’ve failed. And that’s what many of us need to hear more about.
What does it look like to get back up?
I often compare business to relationships because let’s face it, both come with their fair share of heartbreak. But there’s something to be said about the broken-hearted – they are arguably the bravest among us all because they’ve dared to love somebody. The same thing goes for entrepreneurs – in order to have failed it means they were brave enough to take big risks.
Failing is not the problem. The problem is that when we fail, our first reaction is to tell ourselves stories as to why.
The internal conversation goes something like this: “Ok, I need to never put myself in a situation like this again. I need to not do scary big things like this. I knew I’d screw it up.”
But why do we tell ourselves these stories?
The answer is because it’s easier to offload pain than it is to feel it. By putting a story to our pain as quickly as possible, we can make sense of it and move on. But the problem is that most of the time, these stories aren’t accurate. In fact, we tell them to ourselves because we don’t want to get real about our true underlying feelings.
That’s why these stories are dangerous. Because the bottom layer to them is almost always the same: What we’re really saying is, “I am not enough.”
And that’s simply not true.
As entrepreneurs, and furthermore as human beings, we have to be able to look at ourselves and say, “I’m imperfect, I’m afraid, I’m vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m also brave, and that I’m worthy of belonging and joy. I am enough. And my imperfection doesn’t change that.”
So the next time that you fail (and you WILL fail if you’re putting yourself out there), it’s important to ask yourself these three questions:
- What more do I need to learn and understand about this situation?
- What more do I need to learn about the other people in this story?
- What more do I need to learn and understand about myself? (In other words, what do I really know for sure and what part of this story am I making up?)
This is the point where you really have to stay brave and be honest with your feelings. You have to be willing to find out, “What is really going on here for me? Is it Shame? Perfectionism? Trust?
It’s important to understand that discomfort and vulnerability are imperative in order for change, growth, and evolution to occur. And so it’s he or she that is willing to be most uncomfortable that will ultimately be the strongest and most successful. It’s he or she that is willing to look discomfort straight in the eyes and say, “You will not define me.”
Discomfort is the only way home. So we must embrace it.
Because embracing discomfort is what causes us to rise up into the fullness of who we were meant to become.
Every transformational leader has the same things in common: The willingness and ability to be incredibly uncomfortable, have uncomfortable conversations, and make uncomfortable decisions – because the right choice is not always the easy choice. In fact, most of the time, it’s not.
But here’s the silver lining to it all: everyone has the ability to learn this process. You can LEARN to embrace discomfort, you can learn to practice vulnerability, and to catch yourself when you’re telling yourself a narrative that isn’t true – and really get to the root of it.
So just know… If you’re going to be brave, you’re going to fall.
But my friends, you will also soar.
*Inspired by Brene Brown featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Podcast of Super Soul Conversations