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Can Failure Increase Success?

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

What if I fail? This is a question that freezes so many of us. As I snuck a moment to work while my daughter was watching the movie Frozen, I realized I have been quiet lately because I am feeling a little frozen by the next phase of the self-publishing process. Writing the story was exhilarating. It lit me up from the inside out. It was challenging, but encouraging to see what I could come up with next. I immersed myself in that phase, made time where I had none. But being a business person? That is not a natural interest for me, and there is a steep learning curve to overcome. I am learning daily, but there is so much information. I will admit that for weeks I have been feeling stuck.


This phase before the launch of "A Grandfamily for Sullivan" is crucial for promoting my book, and I don't like self-promotion. It feels icky to me and always has. It's an uncomfortable feeling that holds me back from the potential to succeed. I am stuck because of a fear of embarrassment and shame. To avoid the fear of failure, I am procrastinating on tasks I need to complete, and sabotaging myself. The truth is, I am afraid to put my product out there in the world and fail.


So I asked myself, "what am I going to do?" And the answer that came back to me was, "I'm going to fail." I'm going to CHOOSE to fail every day, multiple times per day. I am going to feel uncomfortable, and when I do, I am going to ask myself one question…" So what?"


So what if I feel a pit in my stomach every time I post something on social media? So what if I overthink this blog post for three days? So what if I think l am an imposter who doesn't deserve to do this? So what if I have typos on my website? So what if my book is a complete flop? So what if nobody comes to my event? What's the worst that's going to happen? I will tell you. The worst that's going to happen if I let these fears and potential embarrassments hold me back is nothing. Nothing will happen. Absolutely nothing. There will be no success without facing the fear of failure.


My children's book project is in alignment with my values and core beliefs. I believe in the purpose of the book enough to put myself out on a limb, but I am also aware of an internal conflict between my goals in life and my fear of failing.


Lately, I've been asking myself, "what is the feeling of failure?" If I put it into words it feels like tension in my body, a gaping hole in my chest, and racing negative thoughts. It usually lasts a few moments or hours, and then it's gone. That's it. Just a few uncomfortable feelings. When I describe it that way, suddenly it doesn't feel like an emotion I can't handle, but one that I can tolerate to earn the rewards on the other side. It's the price I pay to achieve something greater than what I achieved in the past. It's the cost of personal and professional growth.


I am choosing to face my fear of failure, and this is new for me, so there will still be times when I let fear get the best of me. In those moments I will remind myself that "done" is better than "perfect."


To give an example, here are a few of the recent setbacks that I am reframing from "I screwed up" to "These are growing pains on the way to success":


1. Finding a million errors and typos in my writing even though I've paid for multiple professional editors. Silver lining - a good friend with a gift for copy editing saved me from publishing a book with glaring grammatical errors. You think you know grammar until you have your work edited by an expert.


2. Losing money on the first set of books we print. The price point is vital for success. I'm shooting for $9.97 for the paperback version, but printing the book in time for the launch will cost more than the price of the book. This is a temporary setback, thankfully. I should only lose money on the initial set of books. I can choose to see this as a failure, or as an investment.


3. Reaching out to people who might be interested in promoting the book and hearing nothing back.


4. Writing my marketing pitch, press releases, form letters, and bio, and thinking they are crap.


5. Procrastinating on choosing a printer. Self-sabotage.


6. Feeling overwhelmed by the options available to market the book, and not choosing a direction.


At first glance, these setbacks are negative, but if I think about it another way, these actions are evidence that I am doing something in the world! In fact, I need to risk failure MORE often to find MORE success. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but the truth is that without risking failure, we are "frozen" in a world that is continually moving forward without our gifts. Avoiding our potential out of the fear of not being "good enough" is the ultimate loss, not only for ourselves but for the people who could benefit from our work. I'm welcoming failure into my life as a friend who reminds me that I'm trying. I hope you will join me as I attempt to fail at least once a day and watch the success that follows.


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