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Self-Confidence and Redefining Failure

In my last post, I talked about the importance of embracing discomfort that serves you. One of the best ways to do that is to cultivate self-confidence.

Many people are confident in their ability to do certain things, but they may still be lacking self-confidence. You can have confidence in a specific ability, skill or area of your life, but self-confidence is belief in your ability to learn, to grow, to do things that are hard but important to you, to face new challenges head-on.

Self-confidence is critical for pursuing and achieving your dreams and goals. This is because self-confidence helps you redefine failure so that you can use it to your advantage and approach it instead of avoid it.

One of the main sources of discomfort for people, if they are thinking about pursuing a dream or big goal, is the fear of failure. “What if I go for it, try my hardest, but I still fail?”

When that question is asked by a client, I typically start by exploring how they define “failure”.

Most people define failure as missing the mark, not attaining the outcome we hoped for or expected.

My next question is, is that really so bad?

For some people, the answer is a resounding yes, because not only is the failure unpleasant, but what they make it mean about themselves is even more unpleasant. They make that failure mean they are a failure, or they aren’t good enough, or they don’t have enough talent, or they don’t have enough skill.

People with self-confidence define failure in a totally different way. They take the word “failure” as defined above (a set-back, or something not going the way you hoped/anticipated it would), and replace it with the word “learning”.

When you don’t make failure about your own inadequacies, and instead understand that you need to fail in order to keep learning and growing, you can start to approach failure rather than fear or avoid it.

With self-confidence, you take action, and you either get the result you want or don’t want, but you always learn what works and what doesn’t. In this way, your action keeps propelling you forward.

In other words, people with self-confidence approach things that are difficult and important to them, because there really is no failure in doing so; there is only learning and growing.

If you have self-confidence, you can approach any goal with confidence, because your confidence doesn’t come from knowing that you will be able to do something; it comes from knowing that if you fail, you’re going to be okay. Failing doesn’t mean you are a failure, it simply means you are learning and growing.

Therefore, with self-confidence, you redefine failure as not growing, not reaching for things you value, and not fulfilling your potential. You see that the riskiest thing to do, is to want something and not go for it.

There may still be fear, but you have courage, and you know that facing that fear and taking the action is going to give you the best outcome – you may not attain a goal or specific achievement, but you will have improved and become a different person for having done it. You will have given it your all. That’s fulfilling, that’s meaningful. That’s living a life worth living.


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