Failure’s not an Option. It’s a Unicorn.
Hi! Gina here.
I finally got around to watching Knock Down The House last night. The film follows four women — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — as they challenge big-money politicians in the 2018 race for Congress. Holy crap, are they inspiring. Like with most movies I fall in love with, I went down the rabbit hole of reading a bunch of articles and commentary, geeking out on anything I could find about it. I read one review that summed up the film’s core message as “many women would have to fail in order for one to succeed.”
Hold the phone. Fail? I disagree.
Did some of them lose the race? Yes. Did they fail? Hell no.
I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill here but the words we use — and our relationships to them — matter. As a coach, I work with clients around the notion of failure often. Synonymous with defeat, shame, and embarrassment — the F-word (failure, that is) is a thing we try to avoid at all costs. I would say that “fear of failure” is one of the most common arguments I hear from clients for NOT going after the things they really want:
Not applying for the job
Not quitting the job
Not starting the passion project
Not getting married
You name it. Fear of failure drives our decision-making all the time.
Can you imagine if @AOC let her fear of failure drive her decision to run for congress? Ugh. I’d rather not.
Here’s the thing: Failure isn’t real. It’s a belief.
Trying to avoid failure is like trying to avoid getting run over by a unicorn.
Unicorns, like failure, aren’t real.
They are creatures/constructs that we made up and we LOVE to feed the myth of their existence.
Things that aren’t real can’t hurt you.
Cutting your finger while slicing a bagel will hurt you. Getting hit by a bus will hurt you. Fingers, bagels, and buses are real things that we need to watch out for. Failure (and unicorns) are not.
At Inside Out Incubator, we support hundreds of emerging female leaders in creating kick-ass careers. One of our primary focuses in that work is around the power of perspectives. A perspective is a belief. We are 100% responsible for what we choose to believe and that choice has a BIG impact on our experience. If you want to change your experience, change what you’re believing about it.
Believing you failed or believing you might fail is going to hold you back.
Every. Single. Time.
Going for it anyway will always move you forward.
We spend so much time and energy trying to avoid failure. But, what if, as life coach Brooke Castillo puts it, “failure isn’t such a big deal? What if instead of failing, we are only either winning or learning?”
Of the 529 women that ran for congress in 2018, I would argue that none of them, not a single one, failed. And neither will you when it comes to going for whatever it is you really want. Because, guess what? Failure is literally not an option.
Alicia & Gina
Call for Reflection: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?