The Truth about Failure…

If you want to succeed, you need to be smart and work hard, right? And if you accept that premise, the opposite must be true also: people who fail are stupid and lazy.

That’s a load of crap.

People succeed or fail largely because of the stories they tell themselves, the stories they believe, and the stories they eventually act upon.

The other day I had the opportunity to talk with a new friend and fellow author/speaker, Marlene Chism. Among other things we hold in common, both of us were hard at work in other fields when we felt compelled to try something new: writing. Both of us knew we had a story to tell, a story that could help other people. Both of us felt a yearning to inspire the masses with a hopeful message that no one needs to settle for mediocrity when excellence is within reach.

And yet…neither of us had ever tried to write a book.

For years I told myself stories to justify not writing:

  • I’ll do it when I retire (knowing full well that I would end up dying at my desk at work without having written so much as a title)
  • I’m too busy
  • I’m too young…or I’m too old
  • I have dyslexia
  • Who would be interested in what I have to say?
  • I have no idea how to write a book

Not surprisingly, these stories prevented me from sharpening my metaphoric pencil.

Now think about where your interests, talents, or passions lies. Have you told yourself some of these stories that keep you from succeeding?

  • I don’t have the right education
  • I lack start up money
  • I will probably fail
  • I’m not really all that good
  • I’m too old to start over
  • I wouldn’t know how to go about something like that

If you tell yourself those failure stories long enough, you’ll eventually believe them. The next step is to act upon them…which means you won’t do anything to move towards your passion.

On the other hand, you can be more like my five year-old neighbor, Abby. She came over to my front porch the other day carrying a little metal bucket. When I asked her what she planned to do with the bucket, she explained that she needed it to hold all of the money she would make.

“Make money doing what?” I asked. Secretly, I hoped that she might be willing to wash my windows for a modest fee.

“SINGING!” she screamed in a powerful voice. She could hardly contain herself. “I’m a singer. I have a beautiful voice just like someone who is a beautiful singer!”

To demonstrate, she belted out a few lines of a song I didn’t recognize, likely one that had originally been covered by a mermaid or a wounded deer. In truth, I can’t say that she had a beautiful voice. But I did recognize the passion and positive story that she had told herself, that she believed, and that she was willing to act upon.

Before I could stop myself, I put a quarter in her bucket. Apparently, I was willing to buy into her story, too.

What stories do you tell yourself? Are you willing to replace negative stories for positive ones like Marlene and I did when we stopped making excuses and started writing books? Are you willing to be like Abby who believed in herself enough to take action on her positive stories?

Or are you going to keep repeating some tired old story of failure until you end up believing it and living it? If you don’t like your current outcomes, change the stories you tell yourself.

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