I know how easy it is to see other people’s lives and feel like they have it all together. Whether you are viewing people’s lives in person or online, we tend to see the best parts of other people. Take social media for example. Most people only post the happy, best parts of their lives: the promotions, vacations, happy couple photos, etc. We rarely get to see when people are laid off or fighting with their partner or struggling in other ways.
I am guilty of sharing the best parts of my day and myself usually too. But I wanted to share something that may shock you… I‘M HUMAN. Sometimes, I fail.
I wrote in my book about how I knew I needed to make a change and Go from Stressed to Strong when my body failed because I failed to take care of it properly. I shared, “Suddenly, a sharp pain punched me in the gut. I slouched over, briefly taking my eyes off the road. I rubbed my stomach gingerly as I forced myself to focus on the road and searched for a clue as to what was causing the pain. Then it hit me: the only thing I had eaten all day was a cinnamon and brown sugar Pop-Tart, over nine hours before.” It wasn’t just skipping meals or eating unhealthily, I also was barely sleeping – on average only 4-5 hours max each night.
There was certainly a time in my life that I failed to physically take care of myself. But I clearly learned from it. I turned 40 this year and feel healthier and stronger than ever. I share this because, I want to be clear that it is never too late to make changes in your life or to learn from the places in life you are failing or even just falling short.
However, that doesn’t mean I’m perfect now. Let me tell you about a more recent experience that I viewed as a failure.
I failed in letting people and sounds bother me this week. There is construction on my neighbor’s home, a new pool being put in, which included a bulldozer. It made the ground and house shake. In addition, there is painting going on in our community. The man who was painting our home was yelling expletives and screaming at his workers right outside our windows and door. When I asked him to please keep it down, as our office windows were right where he was working, his response was, “oh I was just talking about how much I hate the democrats.”
You can imagine how well that went. I asked him to keep it down no matter what he was talking about. He then began to yell at me that there is free speech (even though he was on private property), and went to his truck, grabbed a Trump hat from the dashboard, and proudly hopped back on his ladder. He really showed me, right?! His behavior was unprofessional and completely disruptive to my work. At one point, while the guy was up on a ladder directly in front of my desk window he yelled, “f*ck me. F*ck me!” as his paint gun jammed and paint sprayed all over the barrel tile roof he was working directly above. OMG!
I let this guy get to me. I allowed him to suck energy from me and take time away from my work. I felt ashamed for a period of time. But when does standing up for yourself and your home take precedent over a bully?
There is a fine line and balancing act one must take in these situations.
There are of course instances where things can bother you and the best reaction is to just process it on your own and move on. Other times, you need to confront a situation head on and even be blunt or bold. Sometimes, we can choose the wrong one and see it as a failure. However, as long as you are true to yourself and acting in your best interest, you are succeeding.
Here are some things to practice for when you face perceived failure:
Embrace failure. Failure can lead to success. So many important people had a major failure, or series of failures, before finding success (Oprah, Michael Jordan, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Vera Wang are some big names I think of easily when thinking of people who openly discuss their failures before success). If you accept that sometimes failure is inevitable, you can simply embrace it and not be so afraid of it.
Learn from failure. This is easier said than done. However, sometimes our failures are our most valuable resources for learning how to correct and improve in the future. Think about what you can do better, what you have done right, and what you should stop doing. Experience really is the best teacher, and with experience comes some level of failure and learning.
Ask for help. If you are feeling like things are failing, one amazing way to improve is to ask for help. Getting feedback can be one of the best ways to learn from shortcomings. Having an outsider evaluate your work or habits can be better than only doing it yourself. Sometimes we are too invested in situations to see where we may be able to improve. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.
Acknowledge it. As I’ve shared before, we don’t expect anyone else to be perfect, so why should we act as though we are perfect? We should share our failures – either with friends to get support, family or partners to learn from it, or coworkers to improve in the future or even get help to do better. Hiding our failures is hiding parts of ourselves, and we should never have to hide who we are.
Be kind to yourself. Try not to beat yourself up. Maintain a positive inner dialogue and try to remain optimistic and mentally strong. It is OK to fear failure and may actually help you to succeed. Just don’t let that fear be crippling or hold you back.
Make a plan. Create a plan to become better. Having a concrete plan to try again can be a powerful tool. Turn each setback into an opportunity to gather information and strengthen your next attempt.
Respond. Of course, failure is hard. No one enjoys that feeling. But always remember, a failure is not the end of the road for you. You can always bounce back better and stronger than ever.
There can be no success without failure. You should welcome failure as a learning opportunity and an opportunity for growth. I have shared with you a couple examples of how I have failed in my life and even a recent failure. I’d love to hear your acts of being a human and falling short of perfection! Feel free to share them in the comments here or on my social media pages. I’d love to open up the dialogue to show others how we are all alike on our journey to success being laden with failures.