Recently, I competed in a speaking competition that had 12 competitors and 3 were to advance to the semi-finals. Would I find success? I have never done anything like this before, so it was totally new. I scoured over what we would be judged on and crafted my talk around the criteria as well as what I wanted my ultimate message to be. The talk could only be three minutes, and not a second longer. The word I felt? PRESSURE.
Ironically, my talk was on putting failure into perspective and finding your successes in the small things you do every day, and how even when something feels like failure you can have and find success. My talk went supremely well. I was confident in my results, and then I wasn’t chosen to move on. So, what did I do? I had a pity party. I felt like I’d somehow failed; I was so disappointed. But you know what? I nailed it. I did everything I had prepared to do. My talk was impactful to those in the room. And it was 2:59 in time. So, what about this experience, I ask you, is a failure? Absolutely nothing. I had to take my own words and turn them back on myself. I could be disappointed because I didn’t “win,” but I put myself out there, I worked hard, and people heard my message. What more, truly, could I want. In the end, my endeavor was a success. I was successful.
My experience and my own reaction to the result got me thinking even more about success and failure. My own feeling of failure was definitely tied to disappointment that I completed a challenge well and didn’t get to go forward. But if we look at it even further, there’s a bit of ego attached (as much as I hate to admit it). So how do we take ego out and look at ourselves from the outside in and find success even in times of “failure”?
Name your success every day.
I have an exercise where I ask my clients to close their work day out by writing three successes from the day. If we look at my experience at the speaking competition, one of my successes was that people were moved by my talk. Another is that I actually entered the competition and put myself in a position most would never even consider! And a third is that I executed exactly what I had prepared and hit the markers that I was being judged upon. So, what in your day would you call success? It could be that you made that phone call you’ve been putting off. It could be that you sent a proposal out or that you worked for 30 minutes without distraction. Sometimes you have to dig deep, but you CAN find success in the things you do everyday.
Plan your day.
Look at that task list of yours and highlight the three things that would make your day successful. Then put those three in the calendar. Congratulations! You just made your to-do list into a success list! If you get rid of the fodder on the edges and hone in on what would make the day a success, your day will go well and move your forward. We get too caught up in trying to do too much rather than doing those things that move us to success. BTW, if three is too many because you have a full day, then do one! Just stop trying to do it all.
Take chances and stop playing it safe all the time.
If you don’t fail, how can you succeed? Until you start pushing limits in business and life, you’ll never grow and will stay stagnant. I have a sticker on my water bottle that says, “I may cry, but I can still do hard things.” And it’s true. I cry when things are hard all the time, but my tears are tears of determination, not of giving up. I always tell my coaches (business and sports) that they can keep pushing me—my frustration is just coming out my eyes. My tears mean nothing other than my limits are being pushed and I will be stronger for my efforts. When we take chances and push ourselves past what’s known, we can keep going with more information and can be better than we have ever been. THAT, my friends is success—even when we “fail.”
For more on attaining and defining success, here is an article I found for you.
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