Newsletter: How we deal with failure can energize us

How we deal with failure can totally energize us for greater learning and change!
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Do you even know how awesome failure is?

Yes, failures (especially meaningful ones) always hurt, demoralize, disappoint - basically suck. And why shouldn't it? Our self esteem takes a big hit. Our confidence is smitten. And deep fears can be triggered. 

Failure is like catching a chest cold and chest colds always feel awful. If untreated, we can end up with pneumonia. Emotionally, that would equate to shame, helplessness, even depression.

The infection is caused by the thoughts of "not enough". I'm not good enough...not smart enough...not important enough...there's not enough time...not enough money...'not enough' becomes our theme song.

These negative perceptions about ourselves and our environment are not only inaccurate but also cause more damage the more we believe them. They mislead us into feeling trapped with very few options if any, other than giving up.

And if we give up, it confirms our 'not enough' perception. This scarcity mindset blinds us from seeing support, resources, services and opportunities that could help us achieve our goals.

So actually the only thing we don't have enough of is a clear understanding of failure. Failure viewed through a scarcity lens will diminish us. Failure perceived by a mindset of sufficiency empowers.

Fearlessly framing failure will increase our awareness of our repository of capabilities and capacities to overcome challenges. And if we don't find it within, we will find it externally. Failure is essential in helping us grow our leadership, strategies and executions.

This may sound like stuff you hear in business circles but it's just as applicable to the business of raising a family. You cannot raise a healthy and successful family with a mindset and soul shaped by scarcity. Children's first 6 years are times of absorption and downloading from the environment. Even in utero, from mom's blood comes all the various emotions, chemicals and hormones that mommy is experiencing.

Upon exiting the womb, what and who baby sees and hears continues to shape their subconscious - to have a foundation of openness to learning and growth, to take risks, to express or a void of fear, anxiety and insecurity where they need to be in constant protection mode, striving for acceptance and adequacy.

And a lot of this hinges on how we have dealt with failure. If our responses have fostered openness, courage and love, we are leading our family to grow that kind of culture. If we have succumbed to perceptions of scarcity, our home environment may likely be one driven by insecurity, anxiety and worry. And our kids, during the early formative years are simply downloading these signals from their environment, forming the operating system for their future behaviors and attitudes.

Here are a few ways to effectively leverage failure to help us elevate our leadership, strategy and execution:

Learn to master failure: (a writing exercise) 
  • Failure is a great teacher:  (eg. Thomas Edison) What should you do differently next time in your preparation or execution?
  • Failure provides new opportunities: (eg. Henry Ford) What opportunities might your failure possibly present?
  • Failure can make us stronger: e.g. Diana Nyad) In what ways might your failure make you stronger?
  • Some failures are also successes: (eg. Miss Universe runner up, losing playoff games, getting to final job interviews) In what ways can you view your failure as success?
  • It's about the journey. Success is not always necessary: recent studies show that pursuing goals / making steady progress contributes more toward our sustained happiness and self-fulfillment than actually reaching them. Identify ways in which you can derive meaning and satisfaction as you pursue your goals.
  • There may be unhealthy, outdated playback / code in your operating system that's preventing these inclusions. How might you want to update them to better support your behaviors that matter most?
Healthily handling failure will significantly increase energy for ongoing dynamic change and growth. Happiness and general well being are additional outcomes.

For more examples and deeper explanations, pick up a copy of Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch.

So stop avoiding failure. Encourage your coworkers, students and family members to not be afraid to fail but rather be free to learn from their mistakes. But be sure to consistently work on your own healthy openness to failure and learning from it. 

Ready to increase your energy for change and elevate your leadership, strategy, commitment and execution? Book a complimentary 30-60 minute session and let's chat.

Cecil Wong is a Certified Life Coach from San Francisco, California with over 25 years of experience in leadership and teaching. He works with children, families, individuals, organizations and companies, combining personal and professional development.

Life coaching is all about getting clear about your dreams and putting the practical pieces in place to make them happen. 

Family Connections Coaching is about achieving more of what matters most.

Check out revamped website!

 Over this past year Cecil has been a great source of encouragement and clarity in helping me break down how to pursue my goals. I’ve never been more aware of the inner workings within myself and they so often directly correlate to the outworking of my goals. From areas of pursuing professional growth, straightening relationship, or achieving balance and rest, Cecil has been consistent in helping me realize the obstacles and the simple steps necessary to overcome them. I highly recommend Cecil in his coaching as I know he will be a great source of encouragement in helping anyone reach higher goals and success. 

~ Billy W., Philippines


 In my short time here at Sunset Church I've been privileged to have built some very meaningful relationships with a handful of men and I'd have to say that Cecil is at the top of that list! We've been meeting on a regular basis for the past 6+ months over "great coffee" and wonderful sharing of our lives in a very meaningful and real way. Cecil has a natural gift of "pressing in" ...encouraging & motivating the life stages one faces and I feel like I've been a recipient of his genuine care for me as a man who is seeking growth and healthy life change. I'd highly recommend Cecil as a leader who can bring his spiritual leadership and coaching skills to our body at Sunset Churchc. Cecil is truly a man of integrity, a dedicated and committed man who strives to do his best in his work and personal life. He is always someone who I can rely on and feel encouraged by in our meeting times together. 

~ Michael C., San Francisco

More testimonials >


Click on the gorilla for some of
Jim Collins' thoughts about B.H.A.G.'s:

Click this pic for some of my thoughts on a faith BHAG:

Pull the trigger on pursuing the dream of something huge and audacious, that will rock your world and bless your relationships, maybe even change THE world! 



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