What “F’ word are we talking about? Well, its not the F word that first comes to mind, for some of us and rhymes with duck. No, not that one, but the other, arguably more important “F” word with regards to your journey in pursuit of your definition of success. The word I am referring to is of course, “F” for “failure”.
The key to success is massive failure (Thomas Watson – IBM). So, I guess, we could conclude, that if failure leads to success, then your goal is to fail as best as you can. Yep, strive for failure and don’t stop until you get there, in pursuit of the elusive success formula, everyone is searching for. So, don’t fear the “F” word. Matter of fact, go after it, better and faster than your competition. Fail faster and better than your competition. It would seem that whoever can fail the most and the fastest – WINS!
A business mentor told me once that ‘Paul, bigger, isn’t necessarily, better’. I agree. To a point! I don’t in regards to failure. The bigger, the better. If you’re going to fail – FAIL BIG. Fail big, I say!
So, you could argue that the volume and speed to fail is a determinant of success. I think it was Brain Tracy (America’s Leading Business Authority on Success) that said that “Failure is a prerequisite for great success. If you want to succeed faster, double your rate of failure.” And the one of the ways he said to overcome your fear of failure is to “act as if it were impossible to fail, and it shall be.”
Great failures is on the list of success. You can only experience growth through failure as you constantly try to improve and tweak, iterate and improve. Failure is the gateway to the ‘next level’.
“F” your way to success! What do you think? Do you agree? Let me elaborate.
We should not be concerned as to why we have failed. You should learn lessons from GROWING THROUGH failure. Seeing failure as a growth stepping stone, you can learn not only to accept failure and learn from it but more importantly, learn to pick yourself up quicker … learn to get up off the ground, faster …. Learn to take that step forward again …. Have the courage to get over that hurdle and the next time …. Succeed.
One of the many things I love about Arnold Schwarzenegger (besides him being one of the best bodybuilders of all time), is that in his Hollywood movie-making phase of his life, he always asks writers and producers who give him countless movie scripts for him to consider to act in is: what would the movie poster look like. The movie poster needs to ‘sell’! Smart man. I think, we can all learn from him and his approach to certain elements of his life. In terms of posters and the road to our own success, maybe, just maybe, we should become the poster-child for failure. Yep, become your own Poster. Make your movie poster (for failure) and sell. Do it big!
Have you experienced many failures in your life thus far? I’m sure we all have. Small failures and big failures. Failures in examinations, in relationships, in financial dealings, in sporting endeavours. I’m sure, if you thought candidly about your life thus far, your life would be littered with many examples of the F word: Failure. I know mine is.
As most of some of you know, I am a natural bodybuilder. I have been competing on the bodybuilding stage for about 20 years now, on and off. I love everything about muscle. The human body is made up of more muscle than anything else. Your heart is a muscle, your stomach is a muscle, you have skeletal muscle to hold you upright and carry your skeleton and organs in the direction you want. As far as skeletal muscle is concerned, I eat for muscle, rest for muscle, exercise for muscle and I teach my clients about muscle and the maximization and optimization of muscle retention, using my framework of body re-engineering. Someone once told me that I was just a ‘ball of muscle!”. I took that as a compliment. Anyways, bodybuilding is an avenue for self-improvement. It is a lifestyle, just like a surfer lives his lifestyle. Just like a martial artist is a martial artist every day of the week and not only on the weekend. Bodybuilding as I see it is the never-ending pursuit for balance, aesthetics and beauty and a daily appreciation of what God has given us (our body, mind and spirit) and the hope and faith that I am striving to BE THE BEST I CAN BE and DO THE MOST I CAN with what has been given to me. I think there are parallels with what it means to be a Christian or to be a follower of a faith/religion. Not doing my best and not giving my best is anti-christian and the height of hypocrisy (probably for most religions in the world too). Being a Christian, I think, demands going beyond mediocrity, demands a higher standard, more devotion to your life. More devotion to the task of living. More devotion to life itself. That is the essence of bodybuilding. Oh, and you train and work your muscles, too.
Anyways, in all those years of competition, I have come up against many formidable competitors. The biggest competitor to me was – ME. Each year, I came up against myself. My whole goal when I started was to make ME better than yesterday, than last month, than last year … and maybe, as I hoped, I will present the best of me one day. I felt comparing myself to myself was the relevant comparison as you could artificially feel good with a result because you came 1st but results could be mis-leading because the line-up could have been average or mediocre. Sometimes, it is better to come last in high-calibre line-up. So, your placings do not reflect the quality of the competition, and statistics can lie. We all know that. Politicians know that. However, it is lovely to come first and be considered the best built bodybuilder on that day and saying that I didn’t like coming first would be telling a lie. That day came and went many times. However, I also missed first place many times. I came second countless times. Made third many other times. Sometimes, I never made the podium at all and never got a second ‘look’ from the judges. It hurt. Failing to win, felt bad. Failing to make the top 3 felt even worse. I wouldn’t lie. Months of focus and dedication came down to a few minutes on stage under strong lighting. Strike! You are asked to execute standard bodybuilding poses and ‘strike!’ the judges would call out. Failing to win or get a place, hurt. However, each competition I did, each line-up I stood in, each year that went by, I learned to overcome my disappointment in failing to win a bodybuilding contest – better. I got better at dreaming. I saw failing at winning these contests as ‘successful experiences’. I saw failing as something that was necessary. Something that was necessary to make me a better bodybuilder. A better person. What mattered to me was ‘progress’. Was I making progress to being a much better bodybuilder. A much better human being. Each failure got me one step closer to knowing ‘myself’ better and as I did, my standards rose too … so much more that it resulted in my representing Australia twice in 2007 and 2008 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in New York , USA. I placed in the Top 5 in both years. Top 5 in the World. Not too bad. It started with a dream. It was only through the many contest failures that I started dreaming more. Bigger. I ‘super-sized my dreams’ … and became what I believed. I became a top ranking natural bodybuilder in the whole World. Each contest failure made me better. Each contest failure got me closer to succeeding. Each failure made me dream bigger. There are many parallels in the journey through life. So, if you are going to dream, dream BIG, I say! I looked and still look at bodybuilding contests as beacon of hope … and keeping my hope alive .,.. making one definite step to being better … holding on to the hope that my best days are ahead. And I daily tell myself: they are. You should too, in your journey through your life.
I believe seeing failure as ‘good’ in any area in life it occurs in, whether it be in business, in exams, in relationships. It does not matter what it is. Just make sure you take the lessons you are to learn from it and try to do it better next time. Failure helps you become better. It helps you become your BEST. Stay ‘big-picture’ oriented as failure should be seen as a ‘break-through’ and not as a ‘break-down’. It is a matter of perspective.
Change your perspective, change your results. Change your life direction.
Never let your fear of failure sabotage your forward progress. You need to break that cycle of fear of failure. Most failures we experience can be tied to 1 or 2 things or both: 1) Poor decision 2) Bad strategy or plan.
There are many ways to manage failure when you are experiencing it. One of the ways I like is to remind yourself of positive mild-stones and battles/wins you have had in the past. In the midst of failure, you need to ‘rewind’ the tape of your life and remind yourself of your successes in your life. Whatever you’re in, whatever failed adventure you’re in, remember: you’re not STUCK IN IT! It is only temporary. Wherever you’re headed in life, whatever goal you have set yourself, whatever obstacles you will have to face on your way to knowing your truth, remember: its not a matter of ‘if’ … its just a matter of time. You will get there. A great thinker once said that:
“If it were not possible to fail, it would be impossible to succeed. If it were not possible to lose, there would be no such thing as winning”.
Don’t let your fear of failure sabotage your forward progress. You need to break that cycle of fear of failure. You need to continue with the idea that there is nothing wrong with failing … .and there is everything wrong with ‘not trying’. I somewhat believe that the fear of failure is nothing more than a self-confidence issue. You see it everywhere in life … all areas of life, e.g., in examinations, picking up a potential date in a social situation, sales calls … living in the past is a problem.
It probably comes down to two rules:
- NEVER give your power away to an event that has not yet occurred (for example, if you’ve spilled milk on the floor, there’s little point crying about it … just wipe it up and go get a new pack of milk)
- GET GREAT!
I would attribute success coming down to habitual excellence (refer to a prior blog on the importance of self-regulatory behaviour):
1) Being your best
2) Being the BEST at what you do (your industry, your state, your country, the world)
As I mentioned in previous blogs, I get my daughter to say a little prayer every night before bed and every time she leaves me for school, she says “God, help me be the best I can be. For me and for everyone else”. A simple, yet profound prayer. A talk to her subconscious mind to be at her best – always. This simple prayer, helps everyone else to then get the best of her, too.
An attitude strengthening-exercise for the mind. Just like you need strengthening exercises to increase skeletal muscle, one needs what I call “attitude strengthening-exercises’ for the mind.
Just like bodybuilding competitions, each attempt makes you better. Each failure makes you better. There are parallels to life. If you are a business man/woman, when you get better at business, business will get better for you. If you are a student, when you get better at being a student, grades get better for you. It follows then, that when you get better at life, life will get better for you. All reluctance is a symptom of lack of confidence. This leads to not attracting success. Maybe, you need to change your perspective on failure to:
“I am not judged by the number of times I have failed. I am judged by the number of times I succeed. The number of times I succeed is in direct proportion with the number of times I have failed and keep on trying”.
Like I have taught my daughter, “never, ever, ever, ever … ever give up!”. It is a belief of hers now.
I keep a bodybuilding contest journal. After each contest, I self-critique my plan and my performance and make new goals for the future contests, based on what I have learned from the one I had just done. If you don’t already do this, maybe, you could probably get in to the practise of having a success journal – write down everything, for whatever area in life you’re working to getting more success from.
Ask yourself these 3 questions when you have failed at something:
- what did I learn (this experience)?
- How can I use this as a positive force in the next contest/phase of life?
- what skill or strategy that I need to re-group on to never experience this again.
I love that NIKE logo : Just DO IT! So simple, yet so powerful. Some say, success is defined as ‘successful failure’. Then, just do it. Just Fail!
Having a good support network is vital in picking yourself up when you’ve fallen down. When you’ve hit a hurdle in life and hit the ground! There is much more talk about failure and very few talk about tolerance for it. You need to increase your tolerance to failure and this comes only from not fearing failure. The only true failure is the failure to TRY. Dreaming up possibilities/hopes and making it real is success. What matters is that you are doing it.
The biggest failure is FEAR. Having the desire to learn those important lessons from learning from other people’s mistakes. Life is too short to try to experience hurt/failure ‘first-hand’ all the time. If someone says that you will get burned if you ‘play with fire’, you should take heed of that advice and not try to get yourself burned because you would like to experience it for yourself. Stupid. As a child, an uncle of mine used to mutter sometime when he observed something happening “Stupid is, stupid does!”
Don’t be stupid. There are enough people out there doing that already.
I think it was Thomas Edison that said something to the effect that : “I haven’t failed. I just have found 10,000 ways things won’t work”. Like the desire to become a better bodybuilder, it takes years and years of dedication to build quality, dense muscle, that proportionately flows from head-to-toe. Then, using the stage as your canvas, you then master the art of painting a living, breathing picture of ‘art in motion’. Beauty and aesthetics in motion. The first thing I resolved very early in my bodybuilding career is to focus on long term. I think that is the first challenge for everyone in life. Life is not to be viewed from the eyes of a hare. One should try to look at it through the eyes of a tortoise. Your challenge: don’t be focused on short-term success, need to focus on long-term and I think many people strive too hard for perfection. This is a futile goal. I have learned one very important thing from all my years competing. There is no 100% rule, there is no secret to success in bodybuilding. Everyone does it their own way, through learning from others and learning what is best for them. This is the same for life. There is no 100% rule in Life. It is through failure, that you succeed in life.
There is one powerful point I have learned through bodybuilding though: it is the search for BALANCE. Balance of the flow of muscle. From top-to-bottom. Balance of muscle. Balance of the mind-muscle connection. This also flows in to all areas of life. We are all searching for balance and beauty. This is a universal appeal. This is what being human is. Need to keep the pendulum swinging … the ability to look for balance! Failing is part of that search for your sense of balance within yourself and also finding your place in this world (refer to an earlier blog called ‘The Pendulum of Life’).
Balance and the search for balance is the ESSENCE of Life. Life, itself, is about balance. The human body strives for balance, for homeostasis, constantly evaluating and accepting change whilst keeping everything in equilibrium. In balance. Nature is constantly striving for balance, as it is constantly in a state of order and chaos, of progress and of entropy. Just like building muscle – you’re constantly ‘breaking it down’ to allow growth and new muscle, bodybuilding follows the same formula for Nature: for progress and new growth, you need to destroy – stimulate and annihilate. This is the same for life and progress. This is why nature needs fires in bush-land. To allow new growth, through destruction. You need to keep pushing the boundaries, your own self-imposed boundaries and limitations. Ridding yourself of the fear of the “F” word, of failure and learning to love it and love it more, lifts you to another level. To another consciousness level.
In Physics, the second law of thermodynamics suggest that all physical systems, however efficient they are, inevitably undergo some sort of degeneration over time. The ordered energy within them degrades into disordered energy or chaos. When applied to the universe and nature, as a whole, that in any physical process, the entropy of the entire universe goes up a little bit but the universe overall, gets a little bit more chaotic! The universe, itself, is constantly striving for balance.
However, in your search for balance, amidst all the confusion that life throws at you, remember one thing: the answer rests in YOU. In your mind. How do you lift yourself up from confusion, misery, melancholy and failure? How do you absolve yourself from emotional and physical bondage? How do you get to the road of freedom, happiness and peace of mind?
The answer: your mind – specifically, your subconscious mind. Refer to some of my earlier blogs on clues to finding growth, through your mind.
We covered a lot of ground with that “F” word and I think we should all learn to love it more. Build up your hours with your “F” word. It is said that you become a ‘world class expert’ in a chosen field with a minimum of 10,000 hours of deliberate practise. Build up your hours with that F word. Become your expert.
Become GREAT at it …and you may just achieve your definition of success!
Until next time.
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