How To Have A Better Relationship With Failure, According To A Life Coach

Photo: Jacki Potorke

Every single person on the planet fears not being enough: not good enough, not hot enough, not funny enough, not confident enough, the list goes on. This fear of not being enough isn't created equal for all of us, but it's always lurking somewhere nearby, waiting to rear its ugly head. We’ve hypnotized ourselves into believing that our worthiness is measured by whether or not he calls, if she loves us, if we get that job, that accolade, or that "like."

Seth Godin nailed it when he said that self-esteem is a choice. Your self-worth is not a symptom of something you achieve, and no one can give it to you. Success can’t give it to you; your lover can’t either. Building your self-worth is your own job, and frankly there’s no job that's more important. If our bodies are our houses, then tending to our worth is like furnishing them. It’s also making the bed, cleaning the kitchen, wiping the dust off your books. You either choose it or you don't.

There are many ways to build your self-worth, but one of the most important ways is developing crafty ways of habitually avoiding it. This article is not about cultivating fearlessness; it’s simply about changing the meaning of what failure has for you. The advice I'm about to give you is the same advice I’ve given every single person I’ve ever coached on matters of career, love, and life. These tips are laws I live by, which means I coach myself on failure daily. Yes, daily. Here's how to evolve your relationship with failure and, ultimately, evolve your relationship with yourself:

1. If you're trying to be the "only one," you're on the wrong track.

We live in a very exciting time when if we’re resourceful enough, we can make a buck doing almost anything without following a traditional corporate route. Never before have the terms "purpose" and "entrepreneur" been so intricately connected or popular. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, "But, Jillian, it’s been done before" or "It’s not original enough." To which I say this: It doesn’t matter how many times it's been done, you haven't done it—and if you’re looking to be "that person" whose work goes viral and becomes famous, you’re on the track to nowhere. Give up that dream. Trust me: You have to fall in love with your work, not the achievement.

2. Fall in love with the process.

To give or do anything of substance, you must fall in love with the process—the stairs, not the landing. The trails, not the mountaintop. The only way to do that is to fall in love with your message (or your dream) and then fall madly in love with the people who want to be your audience, your client, or your co-travelers on the journey. Culturally we’re so destination-driven, and yet we forget that the destination we envision is usually not the exact destination we get.

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3. Challenge your beliefs.

When people fear failure, it’s because of a core belief that convinces them that failing at something signifies the end. The end of a dream, or a project, or even the end of an identity they’re attached to. Sometimes it doesn't mark an ending but the need for a new strategy or a fresher perspective.

4. Adopt this new belief.

The most successful people in the world all share a common belief: "I’ll survive whatever doesn't work out." This belief is not innate. It’s created by looking back at your life and remembering all the little and big things you survived. Anecdotal evidence is extremely powerful, and you must provide that for yourself, either from your own history, or if necessary, by studying those who overcame the same obstacles.

5. Expect to fail.

Failures are lessons, folks. We’re not meant to get anything worthwhile on the first try. Remember the journey? Its relevance is in direct proportion to who we become along the way. We’re meant to fail, then learn, then relearn. This builds grit. It makes us humble, graceful, wise, and strong—and it’s what we’re made for. Allow these lessons to stretch you. Your self-worth depends on all of them.

Want to get better at coping with failure? This is a must-read.

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