Not to long ago, I got into a pointless debate with my brother (you know the kind, where one brother takes one side and the other takes another and you’ll be damned if you let him win an argument) about the topic of people’s desire to change their lives. We began talking about how “some people just don’t want to succeed” because they don’t try hard enough.
My point was that fear of failure is a strong driving force to those that want to change but don’t want to risk failure. Even the thought of failure can drive someone to avoid a positive experience by suddenly finding hours of busy work. People wants to have a better life but the fear of failing at something drives them in a direction that produces exactly the opposite. Then I found this post from Seth Godin and it rang true with me, they take the failure personal.
How else are you supposed to take it?
“Don’t take it personally.”
This is tough advice. Am I supposed to take it like a chair? Sometimes it seems as though the only way to take it is personally. That customer who doesn’t like your product (your best work) or that running buddy who doesn’t want to run with you any longer…
Here’s the thing: it’s never personal. It’s never about you. How could it be? That person doesn’t truly know you, understand what you want or hear the voices in your head. All they know is themselves.
When someone moves on, when she walks away or even badmouths you or your work, it’s not personal about you. It’s personal about her. Her agenda, her decisions, her story.
Do your work, the best way you know how. Is there any other option?
Learn not Burn
I would advise people to learn from the experience and not get hot over it. I caught myself the other day taking this advice. I had someone standing before me very mad (and yes your natural assumption is to assume ‘what did I do to deserve this?’) but I stepped backed and asked myself some questions in the heat of the moment while trying to listen to the person vent:
- What is exactly going on here?
- How did we get to this boiling point?
- Did I really do something to bring this on?
- How can I learn from this?
- What can I do to make this a teachable moment and return the person to the topic of accepting my offer.
We do take things personal. There is no doubt about it. If we can learn that we are in a long process and not a one time event, we have the ability to step back and learn from each event.
This is why you’ll hear me say, “Failure is an Event, not a Title”.
- Failure is a Prerequisite for Success (socyberty.com)
- What failure can teach you (iowabiz.com)
- Seth Godin Is Weird (twistimage.com)
- 3 Marketing Lessons from Seth Godin’s New Book “Poke the Box” (hubspot.com)
- Celebrate Failure Since Failing is What Most of Us Do (psychologytoday.com)