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How To Deal With Failure

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michael jordan failure quote

We all fail.  That's part of process of achieving any goal.  But how do you deal with the inevitable failure that comes during the pursuit of your goals?

In this video blog, I answer a question I received from a follower of PLM on this topic.  The person described in their e-mail that they are following a specific diet, but often will “fall off the wagon” and end up sabotaging their success by eating unhealthy foods.  Does this sound familiar?  We've all sabotaged ourselves in some way and violating our own standards.  You can call this “failure” if you'd like, but let me share with you my thoughts on how to deal with failure so that you can ensure you're achieving your goals.

Watch the video below:

(Click here to watch on YouTube)

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Be Prepared To Fail

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, experiences failure.  Don't even bother setting a goal if you aren't prepared to fail.  In fact, I don't understand why people act surprised or down when they fail… don't they understand that it's part of the process?  Don't they know that EVERYONE fails?  Don't they know that the SECRET TO SUCCESS is to DOUBLE their rate of failure?

When people succeed, they party.  When people fail, they ponder.  Rarely do you change your life at a party.  But when you ponder, you come up with new distinctions and ideas to change your life.

You need to first and foremost prepare yourself for failure.  How?  By making sure that you're physically and emotionally strong enough to handle it.  By cultivating your ability to persist and not give up.  It's your MINDSET that will ultimately pull you through any adversity or challenge in your life.  The stronger you are mentally, emotionally and physically, the less failure affects you.  It simply bounces off of you, since you're in this state of being unstoppable.

Let me give you the example of dating.  I was a dating coach for many years when I was younger and used to take guys out to meet and interact with women.  One thing about meeting and approaching random strangers is that you will likely fail a lot.  You will walk up to a woman you find attractive, but they will have a boyfriend.  You will approach someone to say hello, but they're in a hurry and have to jet.  You will start talking to a girl at a bar, but her friends will pull her away.  There's so many instances where you fail in dating, whether the person simply isn't interested or due to logistics, but it's part of the process.

What happens if you aren't mentally and emotionally strong to deal with the rejection and failure that comes with dating?  You will break down.  You will feel frustrated, rejected and feel like a failure.  You will feel embarrassed or not good enough.  Likely, you will give up because you don't have a strong enough mentality to keep going.  On the other hand, someone that is mentally and emotionally strong is unfazed by this.  They understand that it's part of the process, they delete any negativity that may have occurred, and they move onto the next person.  They don't get down on themselves when they fail or come up short – they simply keep going.

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
– Michael Jordan

Focus On Progress, Not Perfection

Being perfect is impossible.  You know this.  In fact, perfection is the lowest standard there is, simply because it's unattainable.  When you try to be perfect, you're really just finding a way to beat yourself up constantly, which is a way of giving yourself pain.  When you give yourself enough pain, you begin to ASSOCIATE that to your goal or your attempt towards your goal, which will cause you to likely give up on it and not take any action.

The key is to focus on making PROGRESS.

Let's say your goal is to follow the slow carb diet everyday this week.  Well, let's say that you realistically fall off the wagon twice and only complete it during 5 days.  Instead of beating yourself up, congratulate yourself for succeeding during those 5 days.  The next week, if you complete 6 days of the slow carb diet, then should again congratulate yourself and feel proud for making PROGRESS.  Don't beat yourself up for failing during that one day.  Look at the progress you've made and that you are making.  You are never going to be perfect with the slow carb diet and complete it EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE anyways, it's just not realistic.

The same goes with your weight loss goal.  If you wanted to lose 10 pounds, but only have lost 5, still feel proud.  Who cares you came up short with those 5 extra pounds?  Reward and congratulate yourself for being halfway there!  It might take you longer than you expected (which is always normal), but you should feel encouraged and motivated based on the progress you already made.

Remember, progress not perfection.

You need to set yourself up to win more often.  You need to treat yourself better and be more reasonable with your expectations.  You are human.  You are not perfect. And you will fail.  Accept it and understand it.  Focus more on rewarding yourself and giving yourself pleasure on what you DID do, not what you didn't do.  This will help free yourself from beating yourself up constantly.

There Really Is No Such Thing As Failure…

Finally, I will say that there really is no such thing as failure.  It's all in your head and the meaning you are associating to your experiences.  If you learn from your experience, it becomes an asset and actually a success.  I look at all of the “failures” of my life and am grateful for them, because all of them have contributed to my success today.  That's why I said earlier that the secret to success is to DOUBLE your rate of failure, because you will succeed faster that way and take more risks.

The key is, you must LEARN from your failures and not just repeat them.  If you ignore the lessons, then yes, it will be a failure.  But if you start to ask yourself, “Why did this happen?  What can I do better next time?  What can I learn from this?”, then you are gaining value from your failures and making progress.

Every failure is an opportunity to learn something new.

I hope that this video blog has helped change your perspective on failure and your life experiences.  Be sure to leave a comment below, I love hearing what you think!

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How To Deal With Failure
5 (100%) 1 vote
  • Great video man! One of my early mentors showed me that Jordan quote years ago… I’ve never thought about failure the same way again. Look forward to your next post!

  • Kostas Pap

    Well said Stefan. Everyone to be Great have to fail hundrends or thousands of times and learn always something from failures. Failures the time they happened looks awful but when time past and look back, always you have something to learn! Well done Stefan! This post will help people stay always motivated!