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Fail Your Way to Success

Posted by Bob Corlett on February 9, 2012

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

-- Henry Ford

The fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles to success. Successful people effectively battle this fear. What separates them from the others? Why is it that some of us have the ability to look our fears straight in the eye and others carry the burden of failure without ever giving their dreams a chance to develop?

Writing for Inc.com, Marla Tabaka urges people — whether entry-level employees or managers -- not to confuse failure with mistakes. "Mistakes aren't failure, they only feel like failure. True failure is in quitting or not learning; everything else is part of the process of learning and growing."

We have to make mistakes to understand what does and doesn't work. And we need to push through our fears to see what we are capable of. Psychologist Ann Vertel gives the example of professional athletes who take themselves right out to the edge of failure — on purpose.  "They do this to discover their breaking point,” explains Vertel. “Then they train to that point over and over, slowly moving it further and further out. This is called mastery. You can't know your level of success if you don't know how far you can go."

Michael Jordon is the perfect example  He has been widely quoted as saying: "I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Successful people look at mistakes or failures as opportunities to learn, writes Tabaka. People who fear failure rarely have such learning opportunities. And very often, even if they do, the fear of failure completely paralyzes them.

"To be successful, you must give yourself the gift of failing fast and failing often," says Vertel. You will find that the act of learning from your mistakes is far more rewarding than doing nothing at all.”

Topics: Career Advice