If you want to succeed at anything in life, you need to fail – A LOT.
Why? Because anything worth pursuing, won’t be easy.
If something is extremely easy, you’re likely already doing it, AND it’s not making you a better person in any meaningful way.
Sure, Easy is easier, but people forget to ask themselves “is it better?”
Choosing The Easy Way Out
So let’s take a moment to talk about the two most prevalent and easiest activities that people in our culture tend to participate in.
The first one I want to talk about is watching TV.
Talk about an easy task. It takes literally zero physical excursion of any kind. I mean – the remote control is the epitome of comfort and laziness. You sit there and just push buttons.
And worst yet, we all freak out when we can’t find the remote. Like the act of repeatedly getting off our butts to change the channel is some kind of medieval torture or something…
Instead, we’ll spend well over 30 minutes of our lives tearing apart the house looking for that magic TV wand, just to avoid the emotional distress of having to change the channel the “old school way”.
And the “old school way” was me as a kid turning a big clunky dial.
I’m also fairly certain there are humans in this world who have never learned how to operate their TV without the remote. If this is you, sorry, but that’s sad.
Now, sitting around and watching TV is one of the most passive activities your body and brain can experience.
TV feeds your brain the equivalent of junk food – and I’m not even referring to the commercials here. With traditional TV shows ranging from 11 to 15 minutes out of every hour (or ~ 25% of your time), you get interrupted with an unwanted solicitation.
And don’t care how much you tell yourself you’re not paying any attention to these marketing ads, they work. If they didn’t, the billion-dollar TV AD industry wouldn’t still be chucking money into it… (by 2022 the forecasts see a modest increase to 74.9 billion U.S. dollars)
So, TV is a prime example of an easy, lazy activity. One where there is no possible chance of “failure” anywhere in sight.
It’s easy, it’s safe, but little by little it’s stealing your potential for true happiness.
The New Comparision Machine
Another example of a widespread “easy activity” is social media (specifically Facebook).
Sure, it’s entertaining. You feel more connected. But it’s not making you better in any meaningful way. Chances are it’s making you worse…
To understand why I want to share one of my all-time favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt:
It’s simply this;
“Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy”.
Yes. It. Is.
Especially when comparing your life against others with “better” lives. Comparing to others who have things you don’t have but want.
And what is Facebook? It’s essentially a comparison machine.
You can spend hours scrolling through your news feed and spying in on others and their fantasy worlds:
- “Wow! Looks like Steve is doing so well – he just bought a really expensive home in Southern California.”
- Or – geez, “The Johannsson’s look they are having the time of their life on their 2-week beach vacation.”
I could go on and on – but the point is when you see all this “awesomeness” you’re NOT feeling genuinely happy for these people.
You don’t walk away from your scroll session feeling better about yourself – you feel worse – you feel like you’re missing out.
Each comparison pinches you with a tiny twinge of jealousy deep down. You wish your life was as good but you think it’s not.
So you’re constantly comparing, and you start to notice where you believe your falling short.
- YOUR house is not as nice – boohoo, I wish I had a bigger, better house…
- YOUR stuck at work and can’t take a 2-week vacation anytime soon – I’m so depressed.
But here’s the secret – Facebook isn’t REAL. It’s fake.
Most of what people share on Facebook (or any other social media site) is just the good bits. But you don’t realize that you see a moment of awesome and you assume their lives are always awesome.
But most people only share when things are going well, or they’re having fun, and everyone is smiling – yay!
We don’t tend to share the car accidents, the lost jobs, the breakups, the divorces, and the embarrassing stuff. No one shares themselves picking up dog poop on a Wednesday or images of their all-night bout with food poisoning…
Facebook is the modern-day version of the land of make-believe.
So, with Facebook, you’re comparing – but not to reality – but instead, to a filtered, cleaned up, bullshit version of reality.
And we rarely compare ourselves downwards on social media, we almost exclusively compare up.
If instead, you compared your current situation to the world’s poorest, you’d start to feel pretty good about yourself. You’d feel like a freakin’ king.
But then, if you’re a good, kindhearted citizen, you’d start to feel twinges of guilt.
So, whether you’re comparing to others who seem to have it “better” (creating envy in your heart) or those who really do have it much worse (creating guilt in your heart) – it’s stealing your joy.
Therefore, Facebook often leaves you feeling depressed. Not to mention destroying a chunk of the most precious resource you have – TIME.
Facebook is easy but don’t fool yourself – it doesn’t make you better. And since your spending time, it’s NOT free.
While you don’t have to pay to join the site, you nonetheless give Facebook two things that are much more valuable: your time and your intellectual property.
The Best Stuff In Life Is Hard
Not only is the best, most meaningful stuff in life NOT EASY, but it’s also hard – and takes a focused effort.
Learning something new is a prime example. Whether it’s learning to ride a bike or learning a new language or playing a musical instrument.
These are all challenging skills to master, and they cannot be learned by sitting or scrolling. You must engage and fail –over and over and over again.
And yes, failing and getting back up is hard. It can be emotionally draining but that’s the only way to grow…
Nobody’s A “Natural”
See, I don’t believe in someone being a “natural” – as in “he’s such a good skier, he picked it up so fast, and he’s a “natural.”
You’re just seeing someone who’s’ been able to stack failure upon failure for years and years. They were able picked up skiing quickly because they’ve honed their balance and athleticism in different (but similar) activities their entire life.
You’re just now seeing this quick success as a single moment in time. But you’re missing the larger context. You don’t get to see the mountain of failures that have led up to this “natural” skill moment.
- You didn’t see the scrapes and bruises that a person wore at the age of 6 learning how to skateboard. Or the hours and hours spent trying to catch a wave on a surfboard.
- It’s never occurred to you this person probably failed more times in other sports than most of the population.
But they’re now reaping the benefits of these repeat failures – by picking up how to ski in a single day…
Failure Is The Secret Sauce
I think failure should be celebrated – not avoided or condemned. Why? Because it means you were brave enough to try.
I hate when I hear someone who berates an entrepreneur who didn’t “make it” and had to close up shop. AT LEAST SHE TRIED. And I promise; she learned a ton in the process.
If she has the courage to try again, the odds of her success are that much better – BECAUSE of her failure.
This doesn’t mean she’ll ultimately succeed the next time, but she has better odds than someone who’s new to the world of creating a business out of thin air.
The key to success at anything is to never give up. To not let your first failure be your last. Because failure is the secret sauce to self-improvement.
And self-improvement is the main ingredient to living a happy, fulfilling, and resilient life.
Direction Matters More Than Circumstances
If you’ve ever done much research on happiness, you’ve likely come across studies that talk about the current circumstances you find yourself in right now vs. your current life’s trajectory.
Whether you’re making progress or losing ground in whatever sense that happens to be (wealth, or number of friends, etc.)
As humans, we have an innate desire for progress. We need our lives to be moving in a positive, self-improvement direction, especially compared to others, in order to be happy.
For example, let’s take two people in two different circumstances and then compare their happiness.
Let’s take a couple who used to own a yacht and a small mansion in Florida before the Great Recession. But since have “lost it all” and now live in a double-wide in the nicest trailer park in Orlando.
They moved from a position of what they felt was respect and wealthy down to a position they see as disrespectful and poor. AND they’re still depressed and sad about the loss – oh, what could have been…
On the other hand, take a poor homeless man who just discovered a new dumpster full of Mexican leftovers. He’s absolutely overjoyed for the next few days. His meager position has moved up a small notch – he gets to gorge on some yummy dumpster food – yay!
Who’s happier with life right now? It’s not the people with the current better circumstances – it’s the guy who’s eating dumpster food.
So, your happiness is less about your current position in life – it’s much more dependent on its trajectory – on progress.
Because if you’re not growing and learning, you’re shrinking and dying. If you’re not brave enough to try, you’re going to wallow in your own self-pity and fear.
But to move into a positive self-improvement direction you must be willing to fail – sometimes in front of others…
Overcoming The Fear Of Public Ridicule
Maybe you don’t fear failure so much, but maybe you’re terrified of public ridicule. Most people more scared of being observed while they fail than they are of the actual minor inconvenience of failure itself.
This makes sense because we humans are a sensitive bunch. We have EGOs to protect and nothing can be worse to our phycological SELF than to be made fun of or laughed at…
We have a reputation to uphold and an EGO that demands respect. So, we avoid anything that might put our EGO’s in harm’s way. We tend to stick with stuff we know how to do, and avoid many new challenges that would be fun, fulfilling, and fruitful – due to irrational fear.
So, what are your options? I see two:
You can either 1) get over yourself or 2) learn new skills in a secret place away from prying eyes (but that won’t work for public speaking…)
Personally, I think you should just get over yourself.
How To Get Over Yourself
Studies have shown there is a massive difference between how much YOU THINK people think about you and how much they ACTUALLY THINK about you.
You see, we THINK people are watching us and judging us all the time for hours and hours on end – that’s not true – that’s what YOU are doing.
YOU are thinking about YOU constantly. YOU’RE obsessed with what others are THINKING about YOU.
Most people either barely notice you, don’t care, or quickly move on from to more important things – like THEMSELVES.
So, if you’re being held back from a life of self-improvement, fulfillment, and happiness because of fear of judgment – I have a challenge for you.
I want you to intentionally make an ass out of yourself in public. I want you to do something “silly”.
It can be as simple as laying down in the middle of a busy store for 2 minutes. Yeah – wild and crazy!!! What a weirdo! People are going to look at you funny – they may even ask, “Are You, Ok Sir”.
Just smile say, “yes, I’m fine – I’m just taking short rest, thanks”.
Note: You might want to hold up on this challenge until the Coronavirus outbreak has subsided…
Yes, you’ll feel embarrassed and insane. You’ll feel judged and way outside of your comfort zone. But when you’re finished, you’ll feel an invigorating sense of freedom wash over you.
Your brain will suddenly realize it wasn’t as dangerous or as “bad” as your mind made it out to be.
YOU get to control YOU – not the crowd. YOU get to choose how to live – not the mindless masses.
Performing this challenge is like stretching your muscles for your brain. And it works.
Stretching Your Mental Resilience Muscle
Insane public acts are one of the main way’s people learn how to become good at public speaking or acting.
These “students” hire coaches who force them to act out of their own character. To do crazy or silly things in front of others. Such as give a speech with a big red clown wig on. Or to run around the stage acting like a rabid dog.
Then, later, when they step up to give a normal speech it’s “no big deal”.
They’ve stretched their mental toughness, their mental resilience. What was once paralyzing and fearful, now becomes easy.
If you take me up on this challenge – your anxiety of failing in front of others will start to melt away.
You’ll be free to pursue the things your passionate about without caring what the crowd happens to be thinking.
You’ll fail over and over again, quickly building each failure into improvement and start being someone others admire. Someone who others say “wow, they must be a natural.”
But you know better! You know you failed your way to success, freedom, fulfillment, and happiness.
So it’s time to decide what you want to improve upon in your life and start failing your way to success today!
“Just In Case” Jack
P.s. – Living in fear of failure is the opposite of living a resilient life. If you want to avoid living in fear or want help to begin your journey – consider joining THE RESILIENT LIFE.
It’s an intense self-paced program for those who want to become more resilient (and less fragile) to life’s uncertainties.