On the path to being a top performer at your craft, experiencing failure and numerous blockades of resistance is an inevitability. Often times, the failure that appears is unexpected, wipes away your momentum, and creates sleepless nights.
In those moments, it's imperative to remember that failure is merely an action or event, not a permanent representation of your identity. In fact, if you read into any high performing athlete, entrepreneur, or investor, you'll see that those tough moments of failure were often times a blessing in disguise.
Billionaire Ray Dalio experienced his big moment of failure when he incorrectly predicted behaviors in the stock market. I was casually surfing YouTube, when I stumbled upon a short video of Dalio explaining that moment of failure in 1982 and the effects it had on him:
He lost his money. He lost his client's substantial amounts of money. He even had to borrow $4,000 from his dad. So, I was surprised to hear him state that this was one of the best things that ever happened to him.
If you've made big mistakes this week, this month, this year, or are afraid to take big chances due to the fear of "messing up", here's one big lesson from Dalio that will help ease the fear of making mistakes:
Shift from "I know" to "How do I know."
Dalio performed calculations that American banks had lent too much money to emerging countries and deduced that they weren't going to be able to pay it back. He thought the economy and stock market would go down. However, just the opposite happened, the stock market and economy catapulted upward.
At this moment, a pivotal juncture happened with Dalio's mentality, which will also serve us well. He shifted from an "I know" to a "How do I know" mentality.
While this type of mentality has made me a better coach, the biggest area of influence for me has been toward my speaking. For the longest of times, my only source of communication came from the written word. I used phrases like "I know I talk a little weird" and "I know my voice isn't exciting."
My evidence and sources consisted of friends and me listening to myself talk. After truly asking myself, "How do I know?" I realized I didn't know anything.
Slowly but surely, I begin testing my original hypothesis by appearing on podcasts and public speaking. I ended up learning that my original hypothesis was wrong. My voice was actually a strength, once I learned how to relax.
Think about how many things you think you really know. How confident are you in those things? Do you have research, some form of evidence, or some type of real-world experience to cement the idea?
Shifting to a "How do I know" mentality brings certainty and confidence which allows you to move at a much faster pace in life while increasing your overall standard of performance in all facets of life. It allows you to "balance fear with aggressiveness," as Dalio mentions during the video.
As we all know, fortune favors the bold and those who are action-oriented. However, simply acting this way without any sort of reflection beforehand increases the probability of big mistakes occurring as evidenced by Dalio.
This is why fear is a beneficial ingredient. Integrating a healthy sense of fear into your situations before blindly taking massive action allows you to make more precise decisions which leads to a more effective and efficient performer.
To get started with shifting to a "How do I know" mentality, ask yourself when thinking about a subject or viewpoint on life: What do I believe to be true, and why?