Most people avoid failure like the plague.
They spend their time trying to achieve perfection. They forgo opportunities they aren't certain will be a sure thing. They do whatever it takes to make sure they don't find themselves in the vulnerable position of falling flat on their face.
And while avoiding failure may protect your ego in the short run, it has a detrimental effect on the level of success you experience in your life. No bueno.
That's because failure brings with it many transformational benefits you wouldn't experience otherwise. That's why some of the biggest names in business tout failing multiple times as a reason for their success.
If you start thinking of failure the right way, you can reap the transformational benefits of it too.
Here's how 18-time bestselling author Seth Godin describes why entrepreneurs who fail more often perform better:
The rule is simple: The person who fails the most will win. If I fail more than you do, I will win. Because in order to keep failing, you've got to be good enough to keep playing.
So, if you fail cataclysmically and never play again, you only fail once. But if you are always there shipping, putting your work into the world, creating and starting things, you will learn endless things.
You will learn to see more accurately, you will learn the difference between a good idea and a bad idea and, most of all, you will keep producing.
Research backs this up as well. If you want to get to a breakthrough idea, you need to produce an enormous volume of ideas. Most of them won't work, and many will be bad. But over time the failures will teach you what good looks like.
Each failure brings with it new insights that bring you closer to discovering your optimal solution.
If you aren't already in the habit of failing often, here are a few strategies to help you get more comfortable with it:
1. Ship often
Publish your work. Go public with your ideas. Explore different techniques. Repeatedly. Preferably in public.
It will put you in the habit of producing work which will sharpen your skills and give you a stronger sense of what good looks like.
Before Seth Godin became an 18-time best-selling author, he was a book packager. For ten years, he produced a book a month. There's no doubt that producing 120 books taught him a thing or two about how to become a best-seller.
2. Detach yourself from results
Failing doesn't mean you are a screw-up. Or a bad person. It just means the approach you took to reach your desired result didn't quite work.
Remember this: How others respond to your work should not have an impact on the way you view yourself or your work. And the key to not falling into a downward spiral when the outcome doesn't quite pan out the way you'd hoped is to remember why you're doing the work in the first place.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert explains in her TED Talk from April 2014:
...I was able to publish the dreaded follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love. And you know what happened with that book? It bombed, and I was fine...My point is that I'm writing another one now, and I'll write another book after that and another and another and another.
And many of them will fail, and some of them might succeed, but I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live.
3. Adopt the growth mindset
You're not born knowing how to do everything. Talent, brilliance, and being good at something isn't a fixed trait, it's something you develop over time with deliberate practice.
Carol Dweck's research on mindset shows that if you adopt a growth mindset, you can cultivate the qualities you desire through effort. In her book Mindset, she explains the attitudes of children who operated with a growth mentality:
Not only weren't they discouraged by failure, they didn't even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.
View your failures as learning experiences, over time you'll cultivate the skills you need to accomplish your goals.
To reach the level of success you desire, ditch the idea that everything will work out like a fairytale with few hardships or failures along the way. Embrace the bumps and learning experiences as gifts.
You'll soon see that your success will be because of them, rather than in spite of them.