If you want to succeed in business, there’s one truth you must make peace with:
At some point, you will fail.
Your launch will flop. Your book will get terrible reviews. You’ll miss your sales targets by a mile…
Or it may be more subtle. After you’ve been running your business for a while — especially your first business — you might take stock and realize that it’s not what you imagined. It’s not producing the money, joy or freedom you’d hoped for. What happened to those big dreams and ambitious goals? Because the business you’re running now certainly doesn’t feel like the business of your dreams.
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When you realize you’re nowhere near achieving the goals you set for your business, you might feel like a failure, want to throw in the towel and move on.
Don’t walk away so fast.
While it’s tempting to quit, failure in business doen’t need to be the end of the story, it’s likely a just a necessary reality check.
Learning from Failure: A Reality Check for Your Business
Most businesses take quite a long time to become successful (even the ones that seem like they “made it” overnight).
Failure is a natural part of building a successful business. It doesn’t need to be the end of your story — unless that’s what you choose.
The secret to moving on from failure is to actively look for, and capitalize on the lessons. Every stumble is a chance to grow wiser, stronger, and more capable of achieve your ultimate ambition.
In this live call-in show, I talk with Alicia, who confessed:
I’ve been running my own business for the last three years, but a lot of the things I wanted haven’t come true in the way that I hoped. I struggle with feeling like I failed. I’m left feeling like all of this effort I put in — all the things I worked really hard to create — none of them really generated the success I was hoping for and now I have to start from scratch. Help!
Alicia and I talk through how she measures success and why she feels so unsuccessful. Spoiler: It’s not because she’s a failure.
Watch the clip, and keep reading after the video to learn four mindset shifts that can turn your gnarliest failures into springboards to success.
Giving up on your business after its first failure or two is like leaving the theater in the middle of an epic movie.
Say you’re watching a two-hour movie, and 45 minutes in, all hell breaks loose — there’s a ton of conflict. The main character is floundering and the chance for success looks dire. If you walked out at that very moment, you’d think that character was a total failure.
But that’s just an inflection point. Their story isn’t over. And neither is yours.
4 Mindset Shifts to Begin Learning from Failure
Okay, so you’re in the thick of it. You failed. Big time.
Instead of bowing out in shame with your tail between your legs, the right mindset just might set you on a higher path. Use these mantras to turn your failure into a growth-opportunity:
“Failure is an event, not a characteristic.” Judge Victoria Pratt said this to me during an interview and my heart cheered when I heard it. “Failure is just an event. It’s not a characteristic. People can’t be failures.” Look. We all make bad judgment calls. But your flops are events, not permanent character traits. Failure is not who you are. YOU are not a failure and can never be one.
“I win or I learn, but I never lose.” This is one of my go-to mantras. Hearing it completely shifted my perspective. And thank God it did, because I used to love cataloging my every mess-up. But the truth is, there’s not a single instance in my past where my supposed “wrong” action or “botched” attempt didn’t eventually lead to something good and useful.
“A fall isn’t final unless you stay on the ground.” We all wipe out. Physically, emotionally, creatively, financially, socially — everyone does dumb sh*t. It’s inherent to the human growth process. But here’s the key: a fall is never final unless you stay on the ground. Catch your breath. Get back up. Keep going.
“Focus on what’s working.” Maybe you didn’t hit your sales goals this year, but that doesn’t make your entire business a failure. Instead of getting so caught up in the goals you didn’t meet, take stock of what you did. Look at everything you have accomplished. When we acknowledge wins and progress, we tend to notice them more. The more we notice progress, the more momentum we create.*
*This is backed by neuroscience. Research shows that celebrating small wins gives your brain a spritz of dopamine, a natural feel-good hormone linked with motivation, which gets you excited to keep going. When you stack and celebrate wins regularly, you build mental and emotional strength, which is an essential for long-term business success.
Remember what F.A.I.L. really stands for. Think about the word “FAIL” like this: it’s a faithful attempt in learning. That’s it. A faithful attempt in learning. It’s nothing to fear and nothing to avoid. From this perspective, failure is not a glitch in your journey, it’s a must-have feature. As cliché as it sounds, you can only truly fail if you stop learning and growing.
What Key Lessons Can You Learn from Failure?
In the midst of or immediately following a screw-up, do I personally sometimes cry and feel like a clueless idiot? Yes, of course.
Do I ever beat myself up if I wasted massive amounts of time, money, or energy? Yes, yes, and yes.
But the nanosecond I remember “I win or I learn, but I never lose,” I begin to regain sanity and perspective. Something good will (eventually) come out of this. Something that’ll help me grow and do better next time.
So once you’ve wallowed, it’s time to figure out exactly what you can learn from failure.
Action Step: Look to your past and think about a specific time you failed (or more accurately, made a faithful attempt in learning).
What are three good things that came from it?
What lessons did you learn?
What valuable understanding do you now have that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
Now think about your present challenge. How can you grow, change, or pivot now to avoid repeating this mistake?
Remember, hitting your goal is far less important than who you become in the process of working towards it. The biggest benefits of challenging yourself are the mental and emotional strengths you build along the journey, including: focus, discipline, determination, resilience, humility, and faith.
The qualities you’re developing through failure now are the distinguishing factors that’ll lead to success down the road.
Today’s Failure Leads to Tomorrow’s Success
“You always pass failure on your way to success.”
~ Mickey Rooney
No one hits it out of the park on their first swing. When you’re feeling unsuccessful, remember that everything you’re doing now is an opportunity to learn and grow into the person you need to be.
Look, I get it. When you’re in it, still stinging with pain or shame from a disappointment, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. That’s when we need other people to remind us that we can find solace and inspiration in the stories of people like us who have risen above setbacks and bounced back stronger than ever.
My grandmother said to me, “Do you know how many auditions the average working actor needs to go on before booking a job?”
I guessed one in ten. And she said to me, “No, it’s 64. One in 64 auditions.”
And it was this clarifying moment for me to statistically understand the odds.
My grandmother went back into acting in her 60s and she started counting the number of auditions she would go on. She got up to 100 without booking a job and then she’s like, “Okay, I’m gonna start the count over at one and we’ll see if I make it to 64.”
And by 64 she did actually book a job and she had this tremendous hot streak for the last 10 years of her life.
So when I started auditioning I was very inspired by her stick-to-it-ness, so I just started counting. One audition. Two auditions. And I promised myself I wouldn’t get upset if I didn’t book something before 64.
I got the job on my 48th audition, and my agent later asked me, “How did you not quit? Most actors quit long before you.” I told her the story about my grandmother and she said, “I wish more creative people understood this because then they wouldn’t be so hard on themselves.”
The takeaway from Bryce? Rejection is a prerequisite to success. Whether you get criticized, passed over, or flat out fired, it just means there’s more to learn. You’re on your way.
Thomas Edison’s grade school teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything” and he was fired from jobs for being “unproductive.” But after 1000 unsuccessful attempts, he invented the lightbulb and made the future brighter for us all.
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her reporting job because she apparently couldn’t separate her emotions from her stories. Which, as we all know, is what made her into the world’s most inspiring and compassionate interviewer.
Truly, the world’s most successful people welcome failure and rejection because they know that it’s one more notch in their belt. One step closer to their dream.
Your Turn: Practice Learning From Failure
In the comments below, tell me:
Which of the four mantras resonates with you right now?
How will you put it into practice today?
Remember, on the road to any dream, Faithful Attempts In Learning are inevitable. But the only true failure is letting it stop you from pursuing your dreams at all. All the other let downs? They are chances to learn new skills, clarify your goals, and reevaluate your measure of success.
Commit to learning from your failures — both the setbacks you’ve experienced in the past and those yet to come — so that nothing can stop you from using your gifts to change the world.
What do you say to someone on the anniversary of a death? You want them to know you’re thinking of them. You want to offer them some comfort on this painful first death anniversary. You’re just not exactly sure what words to use. We’ve been there. So, we’re glad you’re here. This post is all …
I started writing this post by trying to take stock of a few things about this year that were good.
The process was easier than I expected. Sure, 2020 has been a dumpster fire year in many ways. But when I really stopped to think about it, it wasn’t hard to identify several things in my life that wouldn’t have happened were it not for the world coming to a stop.
I began learning a lot more, for example. I used to identify as a “lifelong learner,” and at some point it became one of those things I said about myself that was more true in the past than in the present.
So this year, especially in the past few months, I’ve returned to active learning. On average, I’ve been reading and studying at least two hours a day. It feels great! And I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened if I was traveling half the time, hosting events all over the place, and starting tons of new projects.
That’s not the only thing on the list. It’s always possible to find silver linings, and in a brief examination I found several.
But as I made my notes, I realized that there was something even more important that was hard to put into words, or at least into a short bullet point on a list. Somewhere through this process, something else happened that far eclipses everything else.
Here’s the best way I know to put it: in 2020, I gained more awareness for daily life than I had before. I began to notice things I’d missed before.
Some might call it “living in the moment,” though I wouldn’t use that phrase myself since I’ve never been good at such a thing. But I don’t doubt the merit of living with intention and trying to appreciate each part of it as much as possible.
So for me, somewhere along the bumpy course of 2020, I simply began to notice more. I saw things I’d missed before. I gained a heightened sensitivity to dynamics I’d previously overlooked.
I also learned to appreciate a new routine that was much quieter. Travel-wise, I haven’t left the United States since February. This is not only a record for me, I’m pretty sure it’s a twenty-year record. There was a time not too long ago when I went completely around the world at least once a month. Now I go down the street to pick up food and carry it back to my home.
We can, if we so desire, learn to see everything that is both terrible and wonderful about the pandemic time vortex. In a year in which so many of our choices have been shown to be illusory, this choice remains.
The lesson isn’t as simple as “Slow down and take it easy.” Not at all!
One of the things I was most looking forward to this year was a big tour for my new book, The Money Tree. I haven’t done a proper tour to meet readers all across North America for a long time, and I wanted to go all-out.
Like so many other people, those plans had to change. Instead of going to forty cities, I went to … zero. 🤷♂️
It’s not like I’m turning my back on my old way of life. If I was able to tour like I’d planned, I would have happily done so. And I look forward to being able to do it again.
But instead of complaining about this year, feeling a sense of loss over not being able to do what I’d planned, more and more I’m feeling a real sense of gratitude. I am thankful for this forced adjustment, truly.
Lately I’ve been reminding myself that most pain comes from focusing on either the past or the future—neither of which we can really do much about. By not worrying about all the things we can’t control, we can become more centered in our intentions to influence the few that we can.
So I’d like to say thank you to the year known as 2020, for showing me (again and again!) the importance of living for each day.
Oh, and thank YOU, dear reader, for coming to my blog and taking the time to read these posts. I don’t take your attention for granted. I hope to always deliver something helpful or interesting to you.
For the record, I do look forward to 2021. But I’m not quite counting the days, because it will come in due time. As Sir Paul McCartney wrote: There will be an answer, let it be.
P.S. Every year I try to remember people who might be feeling sad during the holidays. If that’s you, please read this post.
There are so many ways that we can improve our lives so that we can reach our full potential. Public speaking is one simple way. Public speaking makes it possible to influence people and make a difference in your life and the lives around you.
We all want to improve our lives as much as we possibly can so that we can thoroughly enjoy our time on this planet, whether that be physically by getting in shape, spiritually by strengthening our minds, or financially using available tools such as https://insidertrades.com/. After all, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does allow for comfort and stability.
We are at a time in our lives where we have access to unlimited self-improvement articles online. There are so many great websites touching on self-improvement tips. It is interesting that with all of these articles mentioning self-improvement that public speaking is not often mentioned.
Public speaking is one of the most important aspects of communication that a lot of people in the world utilize daily. Good public speaking skills allow us to motive ourselves and the people around us. It allows us to influence people and help people make educated decisions. Public speaking boosts confidence while also allowing opportunities for career and personal development. There are so many reasons to be a better public speaker, and here are a few tips.
Public Speaking Tips
1. Being nervous is completely normal.
That is why it is so important to breathe, practice, and prepare. Before you go onto the stage, take a minute to practice deep breathing. Take three deep breaths in and out. If you are reading a speech that you have prepared, read that speech as many times out loud as you possibly can leading up to your public speech. Make sure you are completely comfortable with what you need to say. And be confident in your ability.
2. Remember who you are speaking to.
Whenever you are speaking publicly, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. If you are speaking to a group of young school children, for instance, you might not want to use words that are too large so that they don’t understand. You want to form your speaking points to cater to the audience, not just yourself.
3. Organize, and open strong.
You want to make sure that your speech opens strong. Grab the audience’s attention at the start of the speech so that they want to listen to what you have to say. If you don’t start strong then you will lose them before you have even begone. It’s also important to organize your speech in a way that allows the audience to follow easily. Organization is everything.
4. Humor them.
People love to laugh, and if the audience is laughing then you will also have a more enjoyable experience giving the speech. If you are able to humor your audience, it will allow you to connect with them and they will want to listen to you.
5. Be aware of your body and try to appear confident.
Stand tall with your shoulders back and don’t make nervous gestures. Be aware of where your hands are at so that you appear very confident. If you look and feel confident then the audience will respect you and want to hear what you have to say.
6. Use personal stories.
In the article, “Want to be a Better Speaker? Do What the Pros Do,” it is mentioned that personal stories can make or break a public speaking performance. You want to make sure that you are able to relate to your audience and personal stories are perfect. It lets them know who you are and allows them to feel connected to you as a person. Building a connection with the audience is really important.
There are so many reasons why being a better public speaker could make our life better. Don’t let now being able to speak publicly hinder your life and keep you from reaching full potential. You will be surprised how good speaking can benefit your life in so many ways.
Back in the spring of 2020, we each got a front-row seat to the wonders of the human capacity to cope with rampant uncertainty. Within weeks, people developed wild and unhinged beliefs about the virus, health care workers, their leaders and their countries.
Some rebelled and channeled their angst outward. Crime spiked. Protests raged across the world. Others turned inward. Suicides and depression reportedly skyrocketed. Anxiety ran rampant. People became burnt out and went stir crazy.
Others distracted themselves. Video games, alcohol, and drugs surged. Anything to “take the edge off.”
Pandemics seem almost perfectly catered to prey on humanity’s greatest psychological weakness: fear of the unknown.
It’s the rare occasion when everyone’s life gets sideswiped and we are all forced to sit in a vast uncertainty for an extended period of time. How deadly is the virus? We don’t know. How long will this last? No idea. Are the drastic social precautions worth it? Maybe—maybe not. Are there effective treatments? Perhaps. Also perhaps not. Is the virus influenced by the weather, by genetics, by geography? Probably, maybe, and, uh… shrug?
Looking back, what’s amazing is that almost nothing said during those first few months turned out to be true. Everyone was so wrong… yet so certain.
It’s ironic that we tend to grasp onto our beliefs the hardest when we are least likely to know if they are actually true. But, I will argue that is the point. The harder we cling to our beliefs and assumptions, the more we are protected from that yawning fear of the unknown.
Any time we take an action with some uncertainty of outcome, we are taking a risk. You skip lunch to get work done, understanding that you may feel like a box of cat turds by mid-afternoon. You call your ex to patch things up fully knowing that you might be screaming bloody murder at each other by the third minute. You buy your friend a gift totally understanding that they may hate it.
Because there is always some uncertainty in life, there is always some risk in life. What keeps us sane when making these decisions in the face of uncertainty is being able to properly weigh the potential costs and benefits of each risk. If the uncertainty feels manageable, then we can feel okay about our decisions. “I’ve gone without lunch before, I can do it again…” and so on.
It’s when we don’t know what we’re risking — when there is so much uncertainty that we can’t even begin to calculate in our heads what we’re giving up and what we’re gaining — that we tend to shit the bed.
When there is so much uncertainty that we no longer know how risky any given choice is, then it’s like our brain short-circuits and we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
In these situations of great uncertainty, our animalistic instincts kick and we assume the worst. After all, if there is so much uncertainty that you have no idea what to do, you might as well operate off the worst case scenario in order to protect yourself.
This is why uncertainty produces anxiety. When we have no clue what to say to someone, we assume they will laugh at us no matter what we do. When we don’t know anything about our new boss, we tend to imagine that they will be a huge bag of dicks. When we feel sick and don’t know why, we immediately assume it must be Cancer of the Everything.
Basically, our unconscious mind, when seeing that we don’t know if something is a threat or not, goes on to assume that it is. It decides, “better the devil I know than the devil I don’t.”
Why Too Much Uncertainty Can Be Bad for You
When there’s uncertainty about what’s going on around us, we see our entire immediate environment as a threat.1 When we’re uncertain about what will happen in the future, we see the future itself as a threat.2 And when we’re uncertain of what’s going on with our body, we assume it’s cancer.
Learning to tolerate high amounts of uncertainty is an important skill that we must develop. If we don’t learn how to deal with uncertainty, it can affect our mental health. Anxiety and depression,3,4,5 OCD,6 and even eating disorders7 are all associated with a poor tolerance for uncertainty, a greater fear of the unknown.
But even if the fear of the unknown doesn’t lead to mental illness, it can cause us to worry way too much,8 make bad decisions with our money,9,10 perform poorly at work,11 and generally just make us miserable to be around.
And when the fear of the unknown spreads throughout an entire culture, people tend to resort to dogmatism and authoritarianism.12 Cultures who fear the unknown and crave more certainty tend to be more corrupt, less tolerant of dissenting ideas, and less trusting than cultures who are more comfortable with uncertainty.13 Basically, if an entire society collectively fears the unknown, they will defer to authority and not rock the boat.
Many people would rather be subject to an all-powerful figure or institution than risk the unknown if that figure or entity promises to provide more certainty in their lives, even if the reality of that certainty is kind of awful.
Again, it’s the devil you know.
And that devil lives between your ears.
But… Certainty Is an Illusion
There are few certainties in life. Maybe none.14 Because of this, we spend so much of our time and energy constructing expectations around what’s going to happen in our lives. We build calendars, create schedules, make appointments, generate habits and routines, set guidelines and goals, follow rules, all in a constant effort to battle back that sense of uncertainty.
But sometimes this desire for order goes too far. Just like governments and institutions can conjure the illusion of stability by oppressing their citizens, your own mind can be deluded into certainty by rigidly chaining itself to inflexible beliefs and routines.
When a global pandemic was thrust upon the world, the uncertainty of it all caused a collective shit-spasm everywhere and people (understandably) freaked out.
But it didn’t take long for a lot of people to become “certain” that they knew what was going on. Some saw it as little more than a “bad flu” while others believed the world was about to change forever, if not end all together! Conspiracy theories proliferated at an astonishing rate and just kept getting more and more ridiculous as time passed.
But most people can’t just sit with uncertainty. And so the way most people deal with this fear of not knowing is by imagining certainty. The anxiety of it all is just too much to bear, so we’ll gladly trade it for delusional certitude, no matter how ignorantly we came about it.
And yet, that doesn’t change the fact just because you feel certain about something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Actually knowing something is true and the feeling of knowing something is true are two different things, and one can occur without the other.15
To be healthy and happy, we have to strike a sweet spot. We have to admit that there’s some uncertainty in the world, because that is what will keep us open to change, allow us to learn, and help us adapt to challenges. But, at the same time, we need to feel some degree of certainty as well, so that we can feel a sense of security and at least pretend we know what we’re doing. The question is, where is that balance?
How to Live with Uncertainty in Your Life
At least some degree of tolerance for uncertainty is required to grow and thrive in the world.
So how do you sit with uncertainty? How to face the fear of the unknown?
Ignoring the fact that you’re angry only causes that anger to well up and then explode at some inopportune moment.
Ignoring the resentment you harbor for your parents and pretending everything is fine between you only festers over time and puts a strain on your relationship that can last for years, if not your entire life.
And ignoring the anxiety and discomfort you feel in the face of uncertainty only makes your anxiety about uncertainty worse.
There’s some interesting research that links mobile phone usage with increased anxiety towards uncertainty.16 It’s correlational data at this point, so we can’t make any strong causal claims, but the idea behind it makes sense.
The theory goes that when you engage in this type of escapism by burying your face in your phone, you’re reducing your exposure to everyday uncertainty. And when you don’t have experience dealing with everyday uncertainty in your life, each subsequent uncertainty becomes that much more difficult to handle.
It’s like if you were never exposed to any germs of any kind, your immune system would never be able fight off any infections because it never “learned” how to fight off any infections.
Make yourself more resilient towards uncertainty… by sitting with uncertainty.
2. Build Compounding Habits and Routines
Dealing with uncertainty of the unknown is a lot easier when you exert agency over the parts of your life you can control. One way this happens is that building habits and routines in the most important areas of your life can counterbalance the uncertainty we feel by providing some stability.
Again, stability is not the same as certainty. A person, group, or even society might be able to absorb more uncertainty, which ultimately makes them more robust and stable. But being robust and stable is no guarantee of the certainty of your robustness and stability.
I’d say the real benefit is that building healthy habits brings you face-to-face with what you can and cannot control in your life. This, in turn, makes you more comfortable with uncertainty.
For example, virtually all the habit research out there suggests that your willpower is far less important than your environment when creating and maintaining healthy habits.
So you can’t really control when you’re going to crave cake and ice cream, but you can control what you buy at the grocery store. If you skip the junk food and instead keep a stash of healthy snacks in the fridge, you’re far, far less likely to pig out on cake and ice cream in those inevitable moments of weakness.
It’s a subtle shift in thinking that has a huge impact: you have very little control over how you’re going to feel at any given moment, but you have a lot of control over the environment in which those feelings will occur. So focus on creating the best environment for yourself.
Once your thinking shifts to this, you’ll start to say to yourself, “Okay, I can’t control X, but what can I do to make the best possible outcome more likely to happen?”
Over time, you’ll start to accept uncertainty as just another part of life because you’ll begin to see that “not knowing” isn’t a dead end, that you have control over some things even if you don’t over others.
Another example: I can never be certain that I’ll be in peak creative form whenever I sit down to write something.
But I can control whether or not I show up, sit my ass down, and start writing. The muse may or may not strike me on any given day. I can’t control that.
I might only have a 30%-40% chance of producing something worth reading on any given day, but that drops to 0% if I don’t show up at all (I guess we can be certain of that).
So when I have a shit day of writing, I’m not too bothered by the uncertainty of it—of thinking that I might not ever write anything worth reading again—because I know that as long as I continue to show up and do the work, something good will eventually come of it.
And speaking of writing…
3. Get Creative
Being more tolerant of uncertainty is linked with being more creative.17,18 It’s not clear if tolerating uncertainty makes you more creative or if being creative makes you tolerate more uncertainty, but I would guess it’s almost certainly a two-way street.
When you’re creating something new—even if it’s only new to you—you have to face the uncertainty of not knowing how it will turn out, how others will receive it, and whether or not it will fail or succeed at fulfilling your intentions.
So more creative people are probably more comfortable with uncertainty to begin with, but I’d argue it works in reverse too: their exposure to more uncertainty also makes them more creative as well.
I’m facing the unknown every time I sit down to write. That gives me direct experience with uncertainty every day.
Then, once my ass is in the chair and I’m writing, I’m diving deeper into the unknown. I’m saying, “Hey, there’s something here I’ve never seen/felt/experienced. I wonder what that’s about…” and I follow it.
It’s in this nebulous unknown area of the universe within our minds where ideas get mixed and remixed, where connections are found between far-distant concepts, where creation really occurs.
Every creative work ever done has started with asking a question about the unknown and then trying to come up with an answer.
You would think having access to anything you could ever want to know would make us more certain. But the problem is that for everything you find that could be true, there are three people saying it’s not true.
Therefore, this constant need to cope with uncertainty is strangely a 21st-century problem. The greater the number of opportunities and the greater the rate of social change, the more confusion and uncertainty that arises.
That’s why it’s more important than ever before to get good at sustaining and tolerating the fear of the unknown.