Embracing the Lessons in Failure

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Feel the fear and do it anyway?” That’s easy to say when you’re not the one facing the fear – so today, I am  sharing a topic from a viewer’s question that I answered five years ago. They said, “I know that I need to make a shift in my life and I want to make the shift, but I’m paralyzed by fear. How do I overcome my fears?” This is a question I get asked at least once a month, and have been getting asked for the last twenty years. It’s a question we all face in our businesses, our growth, our personal lives…fear pops up anytime we feel uncertain. It’s perfectly natural. We might have a fear of judgment, fear of failure, fear of success (yes, people do fear success), or just a fear of the unknown: “I’m afraid of what will happen if I do XYZ.” But you already know what will happen if you don’t do it – you will stay stuck right where you are. So, what’s scarier? Taking the leap into the unknown, or looking back in five years to realize you are still exactly where you were?

When we fear failure, it’s because so many of us look at failure as an ending instead of a starting point. So many people feel like if they fail, they’re done. Failure is the end of the business, the end of the relationship, the end of the experience – but what if you turned that around and looked at failure as an opportunity for growth? You could say, “Hey, now I know what doesn’t work, so I don’t have to waste any more time doing that!” Failure is inevitable on the way to success. It’s very unlikely that we will do everything 100% correctly the first time, and that’s ok. Do you think the most successful people just woke up one day, and they were at the top of their industries? Of course not! They failed. The more they failed, the more they learned…and the more successful they became: they didn’t give up. They learned from what didn’t work, and found better ways of doing things.

Really successful people fail forward. They use their failures as feedback, and they’re willing to fail over and over again. I have failed over and over again. Successful people keep taking the leap again and again, because they are THAT committed to achieving their dreams and goals. Failure doesn’t mean you’re bad or you suck at what you do. You might have things that you could be better at – we all do. Allowing failure to teach you what you don’t know also tells you what you do know. What parts of the project did you do right? Now you know what to build upon. Take those parts that work, and correct the parts that don’t work. This is the secret to success. Try. Fail. Course correct. Try again. This is how failing forward works – it allows you to make the necessary adjustments and keep going. I have failed so many times – oh my gosh – I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve failed. What makes me successful is that I keep going – I fail forward.

Have you ever frozen while you’re on a stage, in front of a camera, or on a Zoom call – and you thought, “Oh, I was so bad.” I have had this happen. When this happens, you have a couple of choices: you can be afraid to ever try that thing again, or you can say, “I was bad. But I got up. I tried. I took action.” You need to focus on what you did right. You did something that many people never even try. So what if it wasn’t perfect? You are still in the game – you can get back up and try again. Yes, you’re probably going to be scared. Your brain is going to tell you about all of the things you did wrong, but if you can just stop and think about what you did right, you will be able to try again.

Let fear be just another feeling, like love, compassion, joy, anger – anger isn’t bad; it’s just a feeling. Our feelings give us feedback – it’s up to us to learn from it or quit. I hope that you’ll learn from it. I love it when my brother from another mother, Sean Smith asks, “What’s on the other side of fear? What new project, what new success? What new income? What new life experience? What new travels? What new exploration? What new love is on the other side of your fear?” There are people who are paralyzed by fear – they let their fear freeze their actions. Don’t let fear freeze you. Instead, figure out what you need to learn to grow. Ask questions – find out who knows the answer and ask them. Do whatever research and homework you need to do. Take action despite the fear, because we are always going to feel fear. The difference between the successful people and the ones who don’t succeed is whether or not they can make friends with their fear and keep going.

Stop and ask yourself (right now), “Where is fear holding me back?” Answer this question honestly for yourself. Where is fear holding you back in your life? Then think about what would happen if that fear came true; what would really happen? How could you fail forward at that moment? Plan for it: “If that fear comes true, my next action will be what?” When you make a plan of action in case of failure, you don’t have to be paralyzed by it. You know the next step. You can bounce back, stronger and wiser.

I want you to make a mantra for failure. Maybe it’s something like, “Failure is my teacher. Failure is my friend.” I want you to plaster that mantra everywhere that you will see it – on the bathroom mirror, in your car, on your desk – and keep repeating it to yourself until you believe it. I believe it, because it’s happened for me time and time again. Failure is my best teacher, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t failed forward so many times, because it taught me how to be better and better. And it will do the same for you!

So think about what you’re going to write about failure or fear. Post it in the comments. Share your big ah-ha’s with our community, because that’s what we’ve built here – a community. We can hold each other up through failure and remind each other to keep failing forward. If you haven’t already subscribed, I’d like to invite you to do that now. Let’s keep building this beautiful family. Click on the notification bell, so you know when new videos are posted – I don’t want you to miss out on a thing! And when I say that I believe in you and I love you, it’s because I do. Whether we’ve shared this space for five years or five minutes, I want you to know that I truly love you. You are here investing in yourself, and I believe in you. I’ll see you real soon in the next episode.

Your Sister in Prosperity and Possibility,

22 replies
  1. Dramaganza
    Dramaganza says:

    This was so good. Procrastinating has been a big blocker for me so it’s costing me. Thank you for this offer. I’m busy consuming info and sometimes so much that I don’t execute on some of the things I know to do. I’m very resourceful but being stagnant is the ying. I’m about to post it note everything in my eyeline .

    Thank you forever. I’m gonna pin this video.

  2. KAT Troulinos
    KAT Troulinos says:

    Great info as always!
    Get outside the “fear box”
    “failure is “feedback” yes!
    didn’t someone write……flex those fearless “muscles”??
    You are awesome Lisa!
    Love for your to be part of my upcoming book…”Glammas Truth bombs”

  3. Ibrahim Onafeko
    Ibrahim Onafeko says:

    Thanks Lisa. I’m grateful for your time and person. This is insightful . I like the way you talk about and elucidate on issues of motivation with regard to going for our wants and fulfilling our purpose and being our best in life. How can one looking to do what you do intern with you or your organization? Thank you and your team!

  4. Trudie Hines
    Trudie Hines says:

    Lisa Nichols, you are a phenomenonal woman! You always know just what to say and how to say it.
    Thank for your love! I am signing up today…

    Your Sister

  5. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Thank you so much for this podcast on failure. You are so phenomenal and I feel you look better every time you post a new video! I have had a terrible week, and the main issue was on boundaries, others crossing mine so often, particularly in really important areas. Listening to your podcast makes me feel I can handle it and go ahead, even though things feel so harsh on so many levels. Thank you for being you and for all that you do! Lots of love to you!

  6. Moriah Hudson
    Moriah Hudson says:

    Thank you for sharing about fear. It’s funny but my life is not about fear of failure. It’s actually fear about success. What if I succeed? What if what I’m working on works? I think today I need to sit down and explore that. What does success look like? What is success feel like? And am I entitled to success? Thank you so much for bringing a new perspective.

  7. Gabriella
    Gabriella says:

    I tried for years in the entertainment industry. I occasionally was successful. There was no fear and I persistence but got no where. I had to make a living so fell back on a job I dreaded going to but needed to pay the rent. I tried again in running a business but again sometimes made money but not enough to support myself . After 5 years of putting everything into the business I let it go as again as I couldn’t make it work financially. So had to go back to the job as a nurse . I’m still stuck there.

  8. Brenda Frew
    Brenda Frew says:

    I love that statement “Fail Forward.”
    I’ve learned that I really didn’t understand what failure was. A close friend, recently, said to me, Brenda, you know what your problem is, is you don’t know how to fail.”
    What? I thought, where in my life did I feel like a failure? I couldn’t find anyplace where I felt like I had failed. My ego wanted to speak to her as if I had never failed, but I realized that her belief of what failure is and my belief of failure was different.
    My parents did a great job in teaching me that if I really want something, that each step I take, even if it’s not a good outcome, is still forwarding me into where I want to be. So when I “failed” it didn’t feel like failure, it felt like a lesson to learn from.
    I feel blessed to have had that lesson early on in life. My parents ROCK!
    When I realized what failure meant for other people, I was in shock that not everyone knew about this line of thinking. “Positve/negative thoughts”
    Here’s my self conversation when I have a thought of a failure, “I never want to fail, I will try as hard as I can to achieve what I want in my life, no matter what!” I saw failure all around me, and I didnt want to be like that.
    Mom taught me to think that, “Everything happens for a reason” and I discovered that the stumbling block, slowed me down to look closer and became as a divine lesson for me. I was excited to see that I didnt feel like a failure, I felt excited to try again, to succeed in the challenge. I asked myself, What is the lesson in this experience to forward my progress?
    Of course the words I used and my courage to pretend that I knew what I was doing, gave me strength to feel that failure was part of success. I don’t use that word too much anymore, because it doesn’t exist in my belief. To give up on my dreams is to fail. To keep going no matter what happens in life, is to succeed.
    Thank you for what you do and I feel your love for huemans and love your energy of your delivery! You motivate me!
    I’m happy that I agreed to do this program.

  9. Rosina Mugabe
    Rosina Mugabe says:

    Thank you Lisa, I have never thought of embracing my failures.
    I try to hide them and pretend everything is ok, but deep down I will be suffering and asking my self why me

    Now it will be different

    Thank you

    • Linda Rawley
      Linda Rawley says:

      Rosina, I feel your story. I hid and pretended because I feared what others would say or think. But as I am encouraged from today forward, I encourage you. Take the step. Leap. You will survive. And be successful.

  10. Linda Rawley
    Linda Rawley says:

    I truly believe when you say you love us that you do. My fear has been I was afraid to fail. I could not move forward because I was scared to fail. Thank you for the encouragement of failing forward. I have failed so many times before, and I have gotten back up. This giant leap into business seemed different. But now, not so much. I am going to take this leap of faith. I have no choice if I want to succeed. And I genuinely do want to be successful. Thank you for all you do for others. Thank you

  11. La Tanya Harris
    La Tanya Harris says:

    Thank you Lisa. I’m currently pursuing a certification to expand my career. I’ve taken the exam three times and I’ve failed. But the most recent time I passed 5 of the 8 subject areas which gave me hope to move forward.
    And I believe nothing is by accident and hearing your message today is even more encouragement for me to keep going.
    Be blessed.

  12. Melba Lee
    Melba Lee says:

    Thank you Lisa for reminding me to Fail Forward and failure is an opportunity to learn some new about myself and assess how I can take action to take this information to move forward!


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