Q: I have a question about the “face failure” advice given to me after I took your confidence survey…
What if I suspect that I am addicted to failure? That I often go after big challenges just to prove to myself that I can’t hack it? I am prone to self-sabotage and the little successes to fuel big successes just make my want to throw up. All I do is try and tell myself, “Do your best, just get it done, try and see what happens, it’s a learning process,” etc, but it is exhausting.
A: This is such an interesting question. It is rare to get someone talk to us, especially a woman, who thinks they fail too much. How about this? Fail fast. This is a new techie buzz term that encourages people to risk lots of small failures, rather than one colossal one. The theory is that in this hyper fast world there isn’t time to perfect an idea over 5 years, you’re better off putting out lots of ideas, each of which you’ve only spent a bit of time on. Many will fail, but one may well succeed. And those that fail, well, you haven’t spent too much time on them anyway, so the failure doesn’t seem so crushing. That’s where you come in. Maybe you are investing too much time, energy and perfectionism in your endeavors and then when you fail it is all the more sickening. This whole idea has a double benefit, gets you tougher about failure AND gives you more chances of success.
Also how about keeping a log? It’d be interesting to see whether you really are failing as spectacularly and as often as you think. And at the same time, you could keep a note of your successes. We bet there are more than you think – clock them up, the everyday little things that you succeed at, a meeting that goes well, an interaction with a stranger, a phone call you found hard, and see if you aren’t ignoring achievements that can build your confidence.