Friday, July 1

Treading Water: There Is No Fail

There is no failSocial media adopted the vernacular — FAIL or #FAIL or FAIL! — as a one word sum up on the most heinous communication and customer service gaffes worth sharing. Everyone knows what it means. And everyone wants to avoid it.

In fact, many people want to avoid it so much that they are sometimes paralyzed from pursuing their own dreams, ambitions, and opportunities. What if I fail?

Those are the words that might sputter from between their lips behind the scenes or among casual confidences. And for all those folks who are holding off on trying anything for the fear of failure, I have very good news. You've already FAILED.

Every day you don't do something because you might fail is the only day you do FAIL.

A social media program that does not exist is a failed social media program. A great book that will never be written is a failed book. And a company that never even sees the outline of a business plan is a failed business.

Ergo, just because it never happened doesn't exempt you from the reality of the FAIL. The only saving grace, I suppose, is the number of people who know it.

If you want another term for the phenomenon, call it reckless obscurity. Nobody will ever know you failed, but nobody will ever know you either.

Two years ago, Adam McCaffrey conducted a study on the fear of failure and procrastination. And what he found was people who exhibited traits of autonomy, competence, relatedness, and vitality tended to be less prone to fear of failure and procrastination.

Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., who wrote the aforementioned sum up of the study, suggested one important question might be "how do we foster that sense of competence in our lives that is so essential to our well-being?" And the answer might be easier than you think.

Give yourself permission to fail at smaller tasks so you can learn failure doesn't matter.

A small company starting a blog will eventually learn one failed post isn't the end of the world. One short story that doesn't resonate with friends might provide the backdrop for a better story. One "side project" or solo activity might not lead to a successful business, but it could give you the experience you need for the next project that will.

All the while, keep the original lesson in mind. Do you have a social media program, book, or business before you start? No. That means starting anything, more or less, is assured to be an outcome that is break even or win. There is no fail.
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