Turn Setbacks into Setups

Why And How To Embrace Failure And Take A Risk

April 9, 2019

Most of the things we want in life require us to step outside our comfort zone.


Think about your goals: maybe you want to perform onstage, learn a language, put yourself out there on a date, or meet new people.


But the problem when you take a risk is uncertainty. After all, staying where you are is easy. And it’s easy to be skeptical of change, to resist anything unfamiliar.


When you think of it this way, it’s worth asking:


Why is it so important to do the hard thing, to take a risk?

How do you get started when you’re afraid of change or failure?


Why take a risk?


Unfortunately, life is short—and you either take a risk or lose the chance. If you’re trying to avoid a life of regret, there are a few crucial reasons why risks are absolutely necessary:


Risks open new doors. Putting yourself out there means opening yourself up to new possibilities in the future, maybe even things you hadn’t considered. Every excuse has a solution, and that solution always paves the way for something new.


Stagnation is boring. If you never act, you’ll stay where you are. Maybe that’s fine at the moment—but do you really want to look back in ten years and think “I haven’t changed at all?”


Failure is the best teacher. This is crucial (and we’re going to talk about it more below): failure isn’t the worst that could happen—inaction is. When you take a risk, you’ll always gain something: insights, new strategies, and more.  


Courage breeds courage. Think of courage as a muscle: one step strengthens you for the next, and the one after that. Take a risk today, and somewhere down the line, you might find yourself boldly tackling something you never imagined even trying.


How do you learn to be bold?


First, embrace failure.


The single most important thing you can do is accept the fact that failure is inevitable at some point.


And that’s okay because failure isn’t an ending. Failure doesn’t have to mean that you stop in your tracks, that you give up. Failure can simply mean that you recalculate and make your way forward again.


Check out this quick list of people who failed (a lot):


  • Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections before becoming the US president.
  • J.K. Rowling’s original “Harry Potter” pitch was originally rejected twelve times.
  • Elvis Presley’s early recordings went nowhere, and he was even told he “couldn’t sing.”


If these highly successful people viewed failure as a closed door, as the ending of their story…how different would things have been?


Second, take a small step.


You might not think of yourself as “bold” now, but confidence is a skill that anyone can learn. With every tiny step out of your comfort zone, you get a little bolder.


Start as small as you need. Maybe you let yourself try public speaking with a small group of friends first, or maybe you promise you’ll go to that social mixer for at least ten minutes. In manageable, bite-sized pieces, you’ll slowly tackle the task of building your courage and self-trust.


Consider it this way: would you rather start taking small steps (and small risks), or would you rather live a life of sacrifice, knowing you never even tried to achieve your dreams? In the end, taking the risk to try and adjust to something new is infinitely more beneficial than being stagnant.


How far will you go, once you start taking risks?

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