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The Inevitable Dark Side of Success

In working with thousands of entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders, one thing has become really clear to me about why so many never take the actions necessary to improve their lives, build wealth, and create the life they constantly dream about.

It comes down to this: most people are afraid to fail, so they never start to begin with.

Sadly, the concept of “failure” has become the other side of the success coin — in other words, you’re either a success, or you’re a failure. In reality, this isn’t true at all.

Holding this belief that failure is bad and something to avoid is what really keeps most people from ever becoming a success — and something that you must overcome.

Many people think they need to have it figured out before they even start.

If fear is holding you back right now from taking the leap and going after something that you really want, here’s a different way to look at it .. and how to change your perspective so that you can put that fear behind you.

For anyone that has accomplished significant things in their life, they’ve learned (the hard way) that failure isn’t something you avoid on the way to success .. it’s something you endure until you succeed.

In other words, failure is a necessary part of creating success!  Being Unperfect is a critical element of traveling the path to where you ultimately want to be.

Look at almost any hugely successful person .. and dig deeper into their past, you’ll often find that they had to ensure many failures in order to finally achieve the success.

Here are just a few examples of some incredibly successful people — and the failures they had on the way there:

  • Michael Jordan, the world’s greatest-ever basketball player, was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Walt Disney, perhaps the greatest creative mind the world has seen, was fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked creativity”.
  • Thomas Edison failed almost 10,000 times before finally figuring out how to combined elements to invent the light bulb.

I could give you 1,000 examples of famous and successful people, all of whom failed in some major way before their success.

What I find is that most people are afraid to fail .. and therefore live a life of safety and security, never taking the risk of failing and being wrong. They’re afraid of looking foolish to others, and their ego keeps them from ever achieving something great, and bringing their talent or gift to the world.

And here’s the other powerful thing to remember about failure ..

You learn 100 times more from your failures than you do your successes.

Think about it. Reflect back in your own life when everything changed for you. That things shifted, and a light switch changed inside you. When something like this happens in your life, you never think the same way again.

You’ll find that most of those moments were times when you faced some kind of failure.

The moment you realized your relationship had failed. A time when you felt like a complete financial failure. A situation that made you realize you had made a terrible decision.

So, while most people spend their lives avoiding failure, they don’t realize that they’re also avoiding the most powerful learning opportunities in their life.

In the past, I’ve found myself following this path as well, and early on, I made a conscious decision to force myself through the fear of failure. I realized that in order to create anything exciting and significant, I would have to take that risk on as a part of the deal.

Over the years, I’ve been blessed to create a lot of successes in my businesses and my life. However, like anyone else, I’m not perfect and I’ve had my share of failures as well.

For me, the failures that hurt the most are the ones that affect others. As a real estate investor, I’ve been involved in hundreds of real estate deals over the years, and many of them involved investment partners.

While many turned out very well for the investors, we had our share of challenges and problems when the massive economic crisis hit in 2008 and tore a damaging path through the investment world.

When one of our investments could not sustain the economic collapse and failed, it was one of the most traumatic and devastating experiences I’ve had in my life. We were dealing with real people and real money, and the hardest part was knowing that we had let people down.

While most of the investors recognized that we had done everything to avoid a loss, we held ourselves accountable and remained transparent and accessible through the process.

In the face of massive pressure and challenge, we remained focused on trying to solve the problem. We never felt sorry for ourselves, and we didn’t duck and hide to avoid having to share difficult conversations with investors. We did everything in our power to avoid a failure, and it wasn’t enough.

It would have been easy to just give up, and stop answering the phone. That’s what most people do when things get tough – they avoid the situation.

We chose not to do that, and in hindsight, I think it was a powerful lesson for us about doing the right thing. It wasn’t easy, but it was truly what we had to do.

That failure taught me about my character, and who I really am. While I still feel terrible about things not going as planned, that experience not only made me a better investor, but also a better human being. It made me recognize how important my family is to me, and that the sun will rise tomorrow, no matter how bad things might seem today.

When you face a failure in your life, the most important thing you MUST do is look for the lesson in the failure.

The ONLY true failure you can incur is when you fail to learn a lesson from your experience.

No matter what kind of failure you have, if you learn the lessons and take them to heart so you never make the mistakes again, you’re better off in your life. On the other hand, if you let that failure get you down and you DON’T learn from it, that failure will become the legacy you leave behind.

The best way to sum up my thoughts is a quote from one of my all-time favourite movies, Braveheart:

“Every man dies – not every man really lives”.

The only thing between you and living the most amazing, fulfilling life you could ever have is the DECISION to do it.

So, commit to yourself that you will no longer avoid doing something because you’re afraid to fail. The act of NOT doing it is the only failure!