Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.
There are so many great reasons to watch the Summer Olympics. The athletes perform physical feats that often seem impossible, and with grace and style that make them even more unbelievable for us lesser mortals. Countries who have been at war with each other engage in peaceful, even joyful battles that lead to no loss of life and to great gains in mutual understanding and respect.
The main reason that I watch the Olympics and encourage you to, however, is that they are resounding proof that the best way to achieve a rewarding career is to fail often, over and over, and up.
On their long journey to world competition, every Olympiad has already failed THOUSANDS of times at the very movements they seem to do so effortlessly now. The key difference between them and most professionals is that they have learned to embrace failure as the key to their success. Their commitment to failing over and over in their dives, sprints, and jumps until they nailed a particular movement- and then to failing again to nail the next one –is what allowed them to keep “leveling up” all the way to the world stage.
Just as the Olympics can inspire children to push past initial failures toward higher levels on the court, track, or gym floor, they can inspire the rest of us to do it in our own pursuit of career bliss and work-life alignment.
Here’s how you can begin your own journey to Olympic heights:
1. Identify an inspiring, ambitious, and growth-inducing goal.
To get you past the fear of failure, you need outstanding motivators. What would make you want to jump out of bed in the morning, plow through everything during the day, and even burn the midnight oil to achieve? What would your professional Olympic medal be for? Create a vision that is as exciting, personally-meaningful, and motivational for you as being #1 in the world is for the athletes.
2. Break the journey to that great goal down into small, achievable chunks.
Dan Coyle, who traveled around the globe to discover how individuals achieve outstanding results for The Talent Code, found that what the artists and athletes he studied shared was a commitment to making small failures, over and over, until they mastered a piece of the process, then starting it over again. What small, achievable steps could you practice over and over until you became an expert at it? Making your elevator speech to prospective clients? Writing a killer cover letter? Folding a client’s words or concerns into your proposal of a solution? Find a way to practice these steps and keep working at them, over and over, until you can do them in your sleep. Then, move on to the next step and nail it, too.
3. Keep your spirits up to keep failing up
What distinguishes Olympiads from other athletes is their belief that — despite incredible odds — they can and will achieve their dream. This positive mindset is serious stuff: countless studies have linked an optimistic outlook to improved problem-solving skills, improved health and longevity, healthier and longer relationships, lower levels of stress and anxiety, and more successful careers. By staying focused on your inspirational goal and the small steps you nail on your way to it, you’ll have the energy and enthusiasm necessary to move past the failures…and be ready to move through more on the next step.
The lesson here is – if you embrace small failures as the keys to bigger success, you have a great chance of reaching your greatest goal. So get down to business and start failing up.
Pratt Bennet is a Life and Career Coach who helps professionals discover and achieve their own Olympic goals. You can find out how he can help you fail up to levels you’ve always dreamed of at www.makethatleap.com.