How do you keep your confidence when you fail?
A question we should all ask ourselves. When we run into that brick wall at work, what’s next? How do we force ourselves to step back up to the plate and keep swinging? Failing is hard. It’s a complete bummer for most of us. We feel discouraged. Our once sky-high motivation is now non-existent.
Just last week I slammed into a wall, face-first. A huge project I had been working on for the last few months was supposed to finally launch. I had done everything in my power to get the project done on time, but forces beyond my control intervened and slapped me back to reality. The project was delayed. For someone that thrives on getting stuff done, it was a real gut-check. It drove me crazy. I knew it was possible to deliver on time. I did everything I could to make it happen, but one of the suppliers did not come through when I needed them most, and that failure rests on my shoulders. Not theirs, but mine.
It was my project from the start. Now, I have to deal with customers who are expecting a product to arrive on a certain date and unfortunately it won’t be there until at least a week later. Not to mention all the other commitments I put together for this project that were scheduled to go out just days after the product launch. I now have to communicate the delay (failure) to them and try to save face. You can tell a lot has gone wrong in the last few weeks. I was late on deadlines and the pieces of the puzzle just didn’t quite fall into place on time. And yet, my confidence is not shaken. As all of this has happened in the last few weeks, I have spent some time thinking about why it is that my confidence has not been shaken and I want to share with you what I have learned from this.
Here are the four things I have discovered that are important to keeping your confidence when facing failure:
- Surround Yourself with Positive People – This has hands down been the biggest difference-maker for me. My boss is incredibly encouraging and affirming of all my work, even when there is obvious room for improvement. My wife is always gracious and understanding about my work and she always wants to help. Even if all she can do is offer a smile and a hug it can make an incredible difference and boost my mood like nothing else. Lastly, the people in my office are just generally encouraging. It could even be just distracting myself by talking with them about baseball or some great restaurant or event, but those positive interactions boost my mood which helps me feel confident enough to continue tackling the issues at hand.
- Give Yourself Ample Time to Get Stuff Done – Don’t sell yourself short, even if others are putting immense pressure on you to get stuff done in accordance with their timelines. Ultimately you know what is best for you and your job or business. Getting high quality work done requires the right amount of time. Less than that and you begin to compromise. Don’t compromise. I could have easily pushed the launch date of my product back to allow myself adequate time to get everything done. But I felt pressure from outside sources to get it launched on their timeline and because of that, I had to rush to get pieces of it done and ultimately I failed because I just did not allow enough time.
- Seek Feedback – Ask for honest feedback along the way. Get unfiltered feedback on your brand, offerings, etc. Don’t just go by what ‘feels right’ or what you think will be successful. That will undoubtedly lead to failure. If you have a tough project ahead of you, do not go at it alone. Ask for thirty minutes of someone else’s time here and there and get some feedback on the progress you have made. If they give you criticisms, accept them with grace and ask for suggestions moving forward. Put yourself in the fire and when you have done that, you will have the option to reshape and mold your project according to what you have learned.
- Keep Going – If you have ever seen a boxing match where one of the fighters gets knocked down, what usually happens next? The fighter does his absolute best to get up. He might have just taken an uppercut to the jaw, but there he is staggering to his feet to keep fighting. You will more than likely get punched in the face during the course of a project or business venture. What will separate you from the rest is being able to get knocked down and stand up again and again. Don’t let a bloodied nose and a few bruises shape your confidence. Recognize that you have what it takes to get up and keep fighting to finish well.
Keeping your confidence is no easy task. It is a daily fight for all of us. It may take time to get used to the punches and getting knocked down. As time goes by it will take more and more to knock you off of your feet. You have what it takes to finish the fight. Get back on your feet and keep swinging.
Have you ever experienced getting knocked down or having your confidence shattered? I’d love to discuss it in the comments!