Using Failure to Launch

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill 

(This is the second post about exiting your comfort zone and achieving the life you’ve always wanted.  Feel free to comment and post your thoughts about these topics.  Thanks!)

Failure, a word no one wants to be described as.  A word that fills the mind with such negative thoughts and memories.  See, failure is the one thing that so many of us never want to experience, but our effort to not fail is the main hindrance to our success.   What do I mean?  Simply, failure is oftentimes the launching pad for our success.

What are some famous failures?

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before the first “Harry Potter” book was accepted
  • Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 different publishers
  • Abraham Lincoln failed in business 3 times and lost political campaigns 7 times before coming President
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team

So obviously failure happens, even to those who have achieved great successes.  What they realized and we must realize as well is that failure isn’t the defining aspect of our actions.   Failure is not the end, failure is just the beginning, now you can begin to make the necessary changes.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure” – Abraham Lincoln 

I hope that all of us have had the opportunity to watch the “The Last Lecture” from Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University, if not, I’ll link it at the bottom.   So much can be learned from his responses to difficulties, or for what many of us call failures.  See, failures are just difficulties.   For Randy, he called these moments, “brick walls”.  To him,  “Brick walls” show just how important something is to you.  They reveal how badly we really value the object to which we are striving.  Far too often we associate difficulties as failures and quit.  We must focus on how to overcome, not just give up.

Let me paint a picture again for us.

Think about yourself as a child.  Somewhere, sometime, you have seen some toy or ball go over a fence into someone’s back yard or field.   Now, when we are children, this signifies trouble.  We don’t think we can climb the fence, let alone jump over it. So what do we do?  We wait for someone to get it for us.   The fence holds us back.  You can see the ball (success), but something is holding you back.  Now, what if you decided to jump over the fence?  What are the possible outcomes?  Well first, you could fall.  Second, you could hurt yourself. Third, you could get in trouble.  Each one of these has negative consequences, but there is always the chance at success.  Lastly, you could have made it over the fence, retrieved your ball and continued to play with it.  Now, the next time the ball goes over the fence, it’s no longer an issue.  The fence doesn’t block you anymore because you’ve overcome that difficulty.

Failures are only difficult times on the road to success. Overcoming these difficult times paves the road for you to travel.

So how can we make failure the launching pad for our successes?

  • Focus:   Success in any aspect of life requires a deep focus on both the end goal and the everyday tasks to get there.  As in the story above, seeing the ball on the other side of the fence is important.  Focus allows us to channel the needed energy to make it.  Write down your goal, share it with a close friend.  Maintain it in your daily routine.  Make sure your focus is able to stay on the goal.
  • Act: Failure isn’t the time to stop working.  Actually, it is the time to start working, just harder.  Action is the most important aspect of responding to failure that we can do.  Action provides us with the needed energy to keep going.  Get back up on the horse when it throws you down.  Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.   Returning to the process will allow you to move towards your goal, even through any setback.
  • Stay: Sometimes this is the hardest part of all, simply stated, stay the course.  Failures in life will knock you down, but you must stay true to the plan you’ve set for yourself.  Be steadfast in your commitment to your goal.  You chose it for a reason, and one simple difficulty should not bring it to a halt.  Stay true to the goal and stay moving towards it.
  • Transform:  As stated earlier, failures are only difficult times on the road of your success. Transform these difficulties into opportunities to learn and grow.  Everything we face in life is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and to become better at working the events of life.  A failure is just another event in our life, for we must learn to overcome and make the best of these situations.  I always like the quote, “When life gets harder, you must have just leveled up.”

As the first letters say, be FAST in your response to failure.  Don’t allow it to hold you down, or force you back from where you’ve come from.  When failure occurs, quickly regroup, understand the situation, and get back moving.   Failure is the springboard to your success.


Click the link below for the video of Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Achieving Your Childhood Dreams



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Uncharacteristically Uncomfortable

“I wanna thrive, not just survive” –  Switchfoot

This will be the first post of three focusing on stepping out of your comfort zone and achieving a fuller life.  Make sure you check all three over the next few weeks as they will build on each other.  This weeks will focus on your comfort zone as a whole, the next two weeks will be followed by “Using Failure to Launch” and “Adversity: No longer an Adversary”.  Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts of each of the posts.  Thanks!  – CP 

Let me start by confessing this:  My normal personality is not one to take many risks.    It’s not.  Really, deep inside when I’m taking a new risk in talking with someone or standing in front of a group of people, I am deathly afraid.   Little do you know, I actually used to be really shy!  (I know that’s hard for those who know me to believe)   Thankfully though, a change occurred and I no longer act that way.   What did I learn?   I learned that to grow, I had to become uncomfortable.

“But We’ve heard this all before!”  said the readers of the blog post.    Yes, I get that this is something most of everyone has heard so many times, but let me ask you, have you changed in a way you wanted?   Are you closer today to the person you want to be?


Ok, that’s a lot easier said than done.  I get it.  I really do, but let me tell you, its TOTALLY worth it.   So how have I stepped out of my comfort zone?

I danced the waltz and swing in front of 13,000 people.   I spoke and taught in front of my peers.   I gave a marketing consultation presentation in front of ownership of a company on how they could change their business to grow more.  I write my thoughts and motivational action steps every week in a blog for people to read.   Those are all out of my comfort zone.   I could have totally failed in any of those, and it would have been alright.  Each of them brought me significantly more joy, energy and overall fulfillment to my life because I actually went for it.  

In our daily routines, we love to stay in our comfort zones, but actually our best work is done with the addition of stress.  Studies have shown that there is an optimal level of stress.   Too little and we only operate at 80%, too much and we struggle to make decisions.   It’s different for every person, but we have to stretch ourselves to find it.   The weight lifter constantly adds weight to the lift so he or she can become stronger.   If they simply kept lifting the same weight the same way, they would never reach their best strength.  

Here’s some steps to take to start walking out of your comfort zone:

Do something you’ve never done that you know a friend does:   This is a great place to start getting out of your comfort zone.  Do something you’ve never done, but do it with someone who actually does it.  For example, let’s say you’ve always wanted to go snowboarding. You don’t know how or what to do.  Go with someone you know that can teach you.  It’s a new experience for you outside your comfort zone, but not some place you’ll be overwhelmed.   

Travel some place new: Now this one seems pretty self explanatory, and really it is, but don’t miss it.  You don’t have to go far off, but go somewhere you’ve never been. Start small if you want, go to a new restaurant you’ve never been.  Order something from the menu you’ve never tried.  Search out your own city for something new.  There’s plenty in every neighborhood that you haven’t actually tried.  Start there, then move on to traveling to a different city, a different state, a different country.   Go alone, go with friends, go with family.  It doesn’t matter.  Go.  Action oriented.  Remember, you’re getting out of your comfort zone.

Take a Chance: As the image above says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  That’s so very true for all of us.  If you don’t try, you’ll never make it.  I used to say to a friend about asking a girl out, “You don’t get to kiss the prom queen at the end, if you don’t ask her to dance first.”  Simple, yes.  Childish, possibly, but you get the point.   Take a chance at winning.  See, far too often we are so afraid of losing we stay in the comfort zone where we feel safe.  Success isn’t given to the safe, it is given to those who step out and take it.  So take a risk, take a chance.  If you’ve never done it, how do you know what will happen.

When we really want to achieve something new, we must take new strides to get there.  That means stepping out of that comfort zone we love to greatly and slowly changing ourselves into a new person.   It may be painful sometimes, but the result always outweighs the battle.  I know that I personally battle myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.  I mean, I went to a painting class this past weekend.  Let me just say it, I don’t paint. But I did it. I enjoyed it.  I would have never tried one before, but I did it.  Take the steps to get where you want to be.  It’ll totally be worth it.



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