Are you a fan of the Olympics? I’m constantly amazed at the skill and dedication these athletes bring to their events. How do they do it? More importantly, how can their example help “ordinary” people be successful in life? Of course, they train for years, but the significant key to success is that they’ve developed an essential mindset – they’ve embraced the concept that failure leads to success.
Normally, how does failure feel? Even now as you think about it, does the heavyhearted feeling come creeping back? Do you sink into your chair as you relive the embarrassment and discouragement? Many people view failure as something to be avoided at all cost.
But highly successful people, no matter what their field of expertise is, know that failure is essential for success. But knowing it and embracing it are two different things. What’s their secret? The strongest predictor that failure will lead to success is when people have resilience and perseverance. They just never give up because they know that everything they experience teaches them something and gets them one step closer to where they want to be.
This attitude toward mistakes and failure makes all the difference in the world. Those who excel in life have worked hard to develop this attitude that hardships, obstacles and challenges are opportunities for learning lessons about themselves and the world around them.
An interesting example of how failure leads to success is that of Lex Gillette. He’s a silver and gold medal winner from past long jump competitions and will be representing the U.S. in the 2016 Paralympics. He is also completely blind! He trusts his coach to set him straight for each sprint and guides him with clapping and cries of “Fly, Fly, Fly” until he reaches the spring board. (Watch it here.) Before each competition they walk around the boundaries of the sand pit to help him create a map in his mind. What powerful proof that mastering your inner game really works!
He hasn’t gotten to where he is without his share of failures, however. And he makes this interesting observation, “Failing at something is essential. You go through some sort of hardship, and it helps catapult you to a higher level. I’ve had a number of failures in my life, and I’ve been able to tap into that inner strength in order to come back and be resilient. I see failures as stepping stones and things that I’ve had to do to get to my destination.”
Interestingly, Michelle Segar, a motivation scientist and director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan, noted that once a person fails, “you don’t have that fear over your head anymore, then you can really focus.”
Another study interviewed 10 Olympic gold medalists and found that they all consider failure to be essential to winning their gold medals. “The majority of participants stated that if they had not underperformed at a previous Olympics, they would not have won their gold medals.”
The researchers hypothesize that learning from previous failure happened in two ways: 1) the athletes focus on why they feel distressing emotions, not on the emotions themselves, and 2) they distance themselves psychologically from the negative experience. They think about what went wrong and use it to propel themselves toward success in the future.
The only way to truly fail is to give up and do nothing —failing to properly prepare, failing to give it your all or failing to learn from past experiences. Would you like to learn how to reframe your thoughts so that every failure leads to success? Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is a highly effective set of tools for accomplishing this. Please join us for the fall session of our Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP Class. Click here to learn more or contact me with any questions. It’s going to be a life-changing experience!
“Failure is the foundation of success and the means by which it is achieved.” ~ Lao Tzu
One of the most common fears people have is fear of failure. Some even have a phobia about it called Atychiphobia. How do you feel about failure? Has it stopped you from trying to do something, even though you wanted to? Or do you view failure as a steppingstone to achieving better things? What value do you place on failure? Do you view it as a negative that’s taking away from your life or a positive that’s giving you a valuable gift? Just imagine how overcoming fear of failure will improve your quality of life.
The way you feel about and manage failure will profoundly influence your ability to achieve excellence. There are three key points to creating a positive view of failure:
- Redefine Failure. Failure is really a great teacher if you don’t let perfectionism get in the way. Perfectionism causes you to beats yourself up emotionally. Shame based emotions like these lower self-esteem and makes you want to give up.
- Have realistic expectations. Build your self-esteem by only demanding of yourself what you can realistically do. Don’t set yourself up for toxic emotions such as guilt or shame. They only make you feel less than deserving of success.
- Heal your thought patterns. Creative visualization and mental rehearsal will transform failure into opportunity and hope – the faith that things can be better. Stimulating hope is vital for being resilient and able to move through life gracefully.
Instant gratification is an enemy to success. Realistically, it takes anyone thousands of hours of work and education to achieve excellence and mastery. It takes time to hone your skills. The truth is there’s always going to be someone better or worse than you are. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself, not anyone else. The real question is, “How can you become a better version of YOU?”
Neuroscience shows that we all cycle through four stages between our thoughts and actions…
- Thoughts are the triggers and catalysts.
- They, in turn, elicit your emotions.
- Emotions cause a chemical reaction in the brain.
- These neurotransmitters and hormones produce a physiological response in your body that affects the quality of your performance, either beneficially or detrimentally.
This is where the power of visualization helps in overcoming the fear of failure. Remember – your brain can’t differentiate between what you visually imagine and what is really happening. Here’s a simple two-part visualization exercise to help you retrain your thoughts – the foundation of your actions – to be more positive…
The first part of the meditation exercise for overcoming the fear of failure.
- First thing in the morning, sit quietly with your eyes closed so you can fully concentrate. Take three deep breathes. Think of something or someone that makes you feel heartfelt appreciation. Focus on this for a moment.
- Next shift your thoughts to happy thoughts or prayers for someone else.
- Now turn your focus back to the day ahead of you.
- Identify the top three priorities for you today and their positive outcomes.
- Visualize the ideal result you hope to achieve.
- Open your eyes and proceed with your day.
The second part of the meditation exercise for overcoming the fear of failure.
- At the end of the day take a few deep breaths.
- Reflect on what happened during the day.
- Acknowledge and feel good about the successes and fun you had. Express gratitude to the Universe or a higher power.
- Now honestly acknowledge any setbacks. Take responsibility for it, but don’t wallow in it. Appreciate that you’re one step closer to realizing your goal. Express gratitude for this feedback and learn from it.
- Tell yourself out loud, “I give myself permission not to be perfect.”
- In your imagination, go back in time, and make believe you’re doing it over. Reframe it and change the scene as you imagine handling the situation better.
You can’t control everything that happens in life. But you can control how you think about it, how you interpret it, and the value you place on it. This exercise is a powerful tool that helps you do that more effectively. I would love to partner with you in your quest for excellence. Contact me and we can talk about what’s the next best step for you to take. And be sure to download your free copy of The 7-Point Wellness Assessment – Create Change Through Awareness.
Do you love your life so much that you greet each day with excitement and anticipation? Would you like to increase the quality of your life so that you do? How do you get the life you’ve always wanted?
We all experience set backs. The usual human response to being disappointed or afraid is to disconnect from your dream, telling yourself, “It’s not for me. It’s not meant to be.” Nevertheless, you have to be willing to risk failing and experience disappointment as you strive to achieve your goals. Otherwise, you won’t step out of your comfort zone because it seems too scary.
Raise your expectations back up to living life passionately. Continually strive for your peak experience that makes you happy and satisfied. Despite whatever challenges you face, you CAN get the life you’ve always wanted.
Positive results come from deliberate action. If you immediately apply the exercise I’m teaching you today, and you practice it daily, you’ll get results that will reinforce your beliefs that you CAN make your dreams come true. In turn, each win will be the foundation for new habits that eventually will create the life you’ve always wanted. You’ll see that you can learn to derive the maximum value from each experience.
The exercise that creates greater awareness and regulates your desires.
In full disclosure, I learned this wonderful exercise from Tony Robbins. For it to work, you must fully and actively participate. It can’t be just a reading exercise. The goal is to learn to rate all of your experiences as you use your power of thought and your sense of feeling.
Step 1: See how things really are. Be honest with yourself about your present situation.
Step 2: Be committed to finding value in everything you experience, even the hard things in life. Always ask yourself, “How can I make the most of this situation?”
Step 3: Learn to rate your desire. Right now, select ONE item (try a piece of food) and focus on only it. On a scale of minus 10 (the most repulsive thing in the world) to plus 10 (I have to have it NOW!) where would you rate your desire for that thing? This targets a quality of feeling or sensation that you’re going to work on.
Step 4: Incrementally increase your desire by asking yourself the following questions…
- If my desire is at +4, what would make me want this at a higher level, say +6? Seriously. What thoughts and feelings will you have to concentrate on to make you want it a little bit more? Keep thinking about it and looking at it until your desire actually increases.
- Now take it up a notch to desire level +8. What would make this item even more desirable to you? What do you have to think and feel to make it even more appealing?
- Finally, take it all the way up to desire level +10. What did you feel and think to make it absolutely irresistible, so that you have to have it NOW?
It’s time to break that state of urgency, because we’re not done. Get up and walk away and think of something else until you can come back and continue.
Step 3: Incrementally decrease your desire by asking yourself the following questions…
What would make this item a little less desirable? What are you thinking and feeling to change your desires? Continue to work your way down the scale until your reach minus 10. Don’t give up until you feel repulsed by the object.
Step 4: Bring your desire level back up to the range of plus 4.
We all have different patterns of thinking. Some people use their imagination and add something to it to make it seem less desirable, like mentally adding salsa to that glass of red wine. Others change their focus and start thinking of consequences, like lying sick in a hospital bed because of eating the item. Others seek distractions.
Did you notice your pattern of thinking? When you create greater awareness around how YOU think and feel about any object or activity, you gain control over your desires. You’ll utilize patterns that work, and know when to interrupt patterns that don’t work.
You can create extraordinary experiences any time by consciously deciding how you want to think and feel before you engage in the activity. You learn to target a sensation, measure its desirability, and take conscious control of your emotional state by determining your pattern of thinking. Always ask yourself, “What is the quality of experience I want in this situation? What conditions must I create in myself, in other people, and in my environment to achieve it?”
Awareness gives you the freedom of choice and control over what you think and how you feel. You get to decide what everything means to you. To delve deeper into getting the life you’ve always wanted, please do these two things:
Would you like to succeed at anything? Often we look to experts to guide us and help us master a new goal. But the truth is finding an expert doesn’t always work. Being told by someone what we should do doesn’t necessarily help because it’s too easy to forget the advice and revert back to old habits.
In order to reach your goal what you need, beyond expert advice, is to master your own inner game. As a life coach I’ve discovered that my clients already know how to succeed at anything, they just need the right kind of support.
To illustrate this point: Tim Gallwey, a tennis coach, discovered a novel approach to helping his struggling students. Instead of telling his students to “keep their eyes on the ball”, he would ask the player to say “bounce” out loud when the ball bounced and “hit” out loud when they hit it. And it had amazing results. The players improved without a lot of effort because they were naturally keeping their eye on the ball without consciously trying to do so. The inner game of ‘bounce’ and ‘hit’ made their outer tennis game so much better.
This experience led Gallwey to a groundbreaking formula. He distilled his wisdom into a book, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. I highly recommend you read it. It’s found its way into the hands of NFL players, politicians and even world strategists. And the impact has been remarkable! (Click here to see how NFL Coach Pete Carroll used it to help struggling football players.) Anyone who wants to excel at something can use his formula and get great results!
It’s made up of two simple steps…
- Stop giving instructions.
- Start asking awareness-raising questions to discover for yourself what works and what needs to change.
For example: The first stage in this process is to set a goal you want to achieve. Maybe you want to cut sugar out of your diet. So, you keep a food diary to see what you’re eating. Then you ask awareness-raising questions such as: “What am I doing when I stay away from sugar? What makes me crave sugar?” This enables you to discover for yourself what’s changing in your mind and body. Perhaps you see that going for a walk every day keeps you motivated to eat more healthily. Or you see that a stress-filled relationship causes you to binge on ice cream. Once you see the cause and effect you can make the change to achieve your goal. In this example, you could learn new stress relieving techniques that don’t involve sugar.
There are five stages to make the Inner Game Principles work for you…
- Increase awareness of what actually is. Really see and feel what you’re doing.
- Learn naturally with imagery. Visualize what you want to do. Rehearse the process in your own mind, and then let your body perform naturally. Don’t struggle to remember the instructions. Just do it.
- Develop a concentrated mind. Be in the zone. Become focused, leaving no room for thinking how well you’re doing. Let your body and mind act as one.
- Use your own knowledge to grow. You know how to do it so don’t over think it. And don’t interfere with the learning process by trying to look good to someone else. Stay focused.
- Learn from experience. Make discoveries along the way, rather than struggling to prove or remember something. When you discover something new, adapt to it instead of struggling against it.
Once you master these stages of the inner game, you’ll know how to succeed at anything. After all, don’t we intuitively know what we should be doing already? We don’t need someone to tell us. We just need to unlearn the habits that interfere with the process and let it happen. That means getting out of our own way. And that’s how we get really good at our inner game.
If you need more clarity on where to start first, click here to download your free copy of The 7-Point Wellness Assessment – Create Change Through Awareness. It will help see areas in your life that you personally want to work on. And if you’re ready to “up your game” in business or life, I would love to partner with you. Please contact me and we can work out the best options available to you.
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure in the outer game.” ~ Tim Gallwey
Do any of the following statements describe how you’re feeling right now?
- I’m feeling stuck in a rut.
- I feel trapped in my job.
- I’m feeling trapped in a relationship.
- No matter how hard I try nothing seems to go right.
- I used to be really good at this, but now I just can’t make it work, so I end up trying too hard and second-guessing myself.
- My fear of failure makes me default to “I can’t” before I even try.
- I thought I was over that, but it keeps resurfacing again and again to gnaw at me.
The good news is…YOU don’t have to stay feeling trapped in life. You CAN free yourself from these negative mindsets and limiting beliefs. And while it does take some effort, it really isn’t that hard. Especially when you realize you already have the skills, you just need to make the connection between your two selves.
What do I mean by saying you need to connect your two selves in order to free yourself from feeling trapped in life?
Along my personal and professional journey, I discovered a book that helped me transform my inner environment to one that is more nurturing, supportive and all in all more conducive to learning and growing. It’s The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. The core message of the book is that in tennis like anywhere else in life we usually play two games, an outer game with our opponent (self 1 – some people describe it as the body, which acts), and an inner game with ourselves (self 2 – some people describe it as the mind, which instructs).
We get into trouble when Self 2 (the mind) tries to tell Self 1 (the body) how to do something the latter already knows how to do. This disconnect spirals into second guessing yourself, trying too hard and feeling like a failure (In my opinion, the only failure is giving up. Nothing else is a failure. It’s simply a life lesson).
For example, when you learn to play tennis, your instructor tells you to “keep the eye on the ball” and your brain instinctively positions your arm and moderates your stroke speed to lob the ball back over the net. Later you forget this advice and start missing, so you think your form is off. To compensate, you swing harder or hold the racket differently, and it just makes it worse. Whereas, if you would go back to keeping your eye on the ball and let the brain do its thing, you’ll be better than ever.
We must quiet Self 1 (the body) and let Self 2 (the mind) do what it knows how to do. The best way to quiet the mind is not to tell it to shut up or force it or criticize it. What works best is learning to focus it. Focus means mindfully paying attention to only the aspects of a situation that are necessary to accomplish the task at hand. This requires that you become an observer of your own behavior.
There are four important steps to connecting your two selves:
Step 1: Observe in a non-judgmental way, simply seeing the situation as it is, rather than judging it to be good or bad. Being judgmental only leads to self-doubt and anxiety.
Step 2: Visualize your desired outcome.
Step 3: Trust yourself.
Step 4: Observe the outcome and results in a non-judgmental way. It’s neither right nor wrong. You did your best at this point and time, and that’s good enough.
Learn to be aware of your feelings and your body’s responses so you can overcome the self-doubt, nervousness, anxiety and lapses of concentration that keep you from performing at your best. Master athletes and business professionals know that they can’t win the outer game if they lose the inner one. They know the value of having someone coach them as they Master the Inner Game. If you’re ready to make the commitment to a richer experience in life, please contact me. I would love to partner with you as you learn to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge.