I have a question for you:
How will you fail today?
Did thinking of that make you want to throw up and stab me and/or yourself in the eye? If yes: Oh, hey fellow perfectionists! Trust me, I COMPLETELY understand.
As an ever-recovering perfectionist myself FAILURE was/is one of my biggest fears. I avoid thinking about it at all costs, until I’m lying in bed at night and my brain is like:
“Would you like to run down a thoroughly comprehensive list of every.single.one. of your perceived failures?”
and I’m like “No, Brain! No! F*&! no!”
and my brain is all, “Annnnnd away we go…”*
I’m working on it.
However, I recently saw an interview with Sara Blakely, our world’s youngest self-made female billionaire and founder of Spanx, and I truly feel my life has been forever changed. She has actually made me EXCITED to fail. Yes.
So I’m watching the interview and Sarah is detailing her life growing up. She says one question her father asked each night at the dinner table completely shaped her life’s trajectory.
I’m all ears. WHAT IS THE QUESTION THAT SHAPED YOUR LIFE, SARAH? Spill.
My perfectionist self is assuming it’s something like, “What 27 goals did you accomplish in the last hour?” or “How long did you spend today prepping for your future?”
The Daily Question That Shaped the World’s Youngest Female Billionaire Is:
“How did you fail today?”
Ummmm, what? Ouch. Harsh, Sara Blakely’s Dad. Way to be terrifying and negative.
But that wasn’t it at all.
Sarah saw this question as a POSITIVE.
If she didn’t have a failure to report at the end of the day it was actually disappointing because, if you never fail you never really try.
So each day she would SEEK OUT FAILURE instead of trying to avoid it. Failure was an adventure and a step in the RIGHT direction. She credits this concept with advancing her farther, faster in life and business – and, of course, to become the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire.
I have heard this concept before in slightly different ways, like Thomas Edison saying on his way to invent the light bulb “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” But something about the way Sara framed it REALLY spoke to me. Like, I feel like I may be cured of my fear of failure.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s obviously not instant. Nothing ever is. But the concept connects so well that each time I feel that fear creeping up in me I’m able to redefine it as a positive and something to get excited about.
I am working on a product right now in an area I know nothing about. I just have an idea and a vision and passion. My belief in it is strong, but I’ve been dragging it out for fear of failing at each next step.
Last week I was driving to a meeting to review the prototype with a knot in my stomach. I don’t know enough, I’m going to make a fool out of myself, this will never work, who am I to do this BLAH BLAH BULLSHIT BLAH. Then, Sara’s question popped into my mind.
This could be my failure of the day! I can fail hard and fast and get back up that much more quickly. But even better… it may be my success!
The point is putting yourself far enough out there to have the POSSIBILITY of failure. Getting out of our safety and comfort zones and heading into the wide-open world, full of potential.
So I will ask you again, how will you fail today?
I hope it feels better this second time around.
Watch the interview with Sara HERE
All photos by Nicole Balsamo Photo
* This hilarious/terrifying nighttime – brain situation is not my original work. I saw a meme of it and it slays me every time I think about it!