The cold office wall held me upright as my breakfast teased the back of my throat. All I could do was focus on my breathing.
My boss had booked me to coach a workshop for corporate professionals. She believed I could do it, yet my self-belief had quickly dissolved two minutes after she told me the news.
As I waited outside the conference room, my fears jockeyed for front row seats in my mind as I scrambled to assemble coherent thoughts.
Fast forward three hours and guess what? I lived!
It was no Academy Award-winning performance, but everyone was happy.
I didn’t embarrass myself, freeze like a deer in headlights, or burst into flames.
I did suck a bit though. I tripped over my words. I’m sure I was beetroot red at some point. And I forgot to follow my slides.
But something unexpected happened.
As the workshop came to a close, I felt a tsunami of confidence arise inside me and I skipped out of that room on cloud nine. It was a pivotal moment that shaped my future. The lessons I learned were transformational. Here they are:
1. Success isn’t born in a single moment
It’s easy to think of success as a grand fireworks moment. One day you’re cruising along and bam, you run headfirst into sparkling success. But here’s your wake-up call – life’s not like that.
Success at anything is built over time. Success begins the moment you decide to commit one hundred percent to your goal and to do what it takes to get there. Success is built upon the failures of the weeks, months and years that precede it.
2. Your actions define you
It’s a fact – you can’t learn to swim by reading a book. You’ve got to get in the pool and get wet. Your thoughts are the same. They’re the beginning of your understanding, but you’ll never grow and master new skills just by thinking about them.
Practicing, experimenting, and experience enable you to learn, not fancy theories, ideas, and knowledge. And the more you do anything, the bigger and better your results will be. You are a product of your actions, not your thoughts.
3. Embracing uncertainty makes you stronger
We live in an uncertain world. It’s just the way it is. And it’s natural to want to cling to certainty to feel safe. But waiting for certainty will never lead to success – it’ll never happen. You’ve got to learn to embrace uncertainty and to be flexible when faced with the unfamiliar to be able to cope and learn how to thrive.
Doing new things that you suck at is the perfect way to throw yourself into an uncertain situation. It strengthens your relationship with uncertainty and the fears and emotions that go with it.
4. Mistakes feed your mind
Your mind is a muscle, and to build strong muscles, you need to use them. Every time you work hard at new things and make mistakes, your mental muscle gets tired. It may even hurt. But as it repairs itself, it gets stronger.
Mistakes are the best ways to discover your boundaries as you learn what it feels like in the moments right before you reach them. You’ll become more mentally agile, learn faster and be able to push yourself further with every mistake you make.
5. Failure offers three crucial choices
It’s a given that you’re going to take a fall at some stage. And when you do, you’ll have three choices.
You can choose to deny your role in what’s happened, avoid the truth or blame others. You can choose to surrender to the emotion and react in frustration, anger or tears. Or you can choose to gain from the insights and to accept, learn and grow from the experience.
The Bitter Truth about Your Comfort Zone
Now, this may sound a little shocking.
Living in your safe little world, packed with comfort and certainty, will only ever lead to mediocrity. To live your biggest dreams, you’ve got to put yourself out there.
You won’t always succeed. You’ll possibly suck big time. You’re sure to fail once or twice. But every time you do, you’ll grow ten times stronger. If you want to change your life, the only way is to get moving, walk your talk and take action.
The bitter truth is that you’ll be more of a failure if you stay living in your cozy, safe zone of things that you know you’re good at.
So if you’re looking for a burst of life-changing motivation, say yes to something that terrifies you.
Say yes to something that you know deep down is good for you, but you fear you’re not good enough to do.
Say yes to yourself and give yourself the opportunity to be extraordinary.
And remember this . . .
There is no failure, only feedback.