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3 Powerful Reasons Why I Love to Fail (and Why You Should Too)

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3 Powerful Reasons Why I Love to Fail (and Why You Should Too)

You know the feeling. The feeling you get when you fail miserably at something. That gut-sinking, desperate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll-never-amount-to-anything feeling. It’s awful, isn’t it?

In fact, some days it’s so awful that you don’t even want to get out of bed. The shame, embarrassment, and fear are harsh reminders that maybe you don’t have what it takes to succeed. Sometimes you even wonder if you should give up on your goals and dreams altogether. But you shouldn’t. And here’s why.

You can achieve the success you’ve always dreamed of by mastering one fundamental skill.

Failure: Study It, Understand It, Learn From It

Why is failure considered so bad? We seem to have a problem with failure. In the sense that failure is seen as the thing that must NOT happen at any cost. Too many people don’t want to focus on failure because it is often equated to weakness.

However, the truth is – failure happens to everyone. It happens in different areas of life and is not contained to high-stakes testing.

Some failures are bigger than others. Some are more public than others. Some are more humiliating than others. And some have a greater stigma around them. But failure does not need to set you back. It can catapult you into the future you’ve always wanted.

In fact, the only thing that separates people who succeed from those who don’t is a proper understanding of the power of failure. Successful people will tell you failure, is not only good, it’s also necessary.

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Failure might be a good teacher, but it’s also a cryptic one. Figuring out it’s lessons is no easy task. To be able to learn from failure, you need a way to decode the teachable moments “hidden” within them.

Here’s how to decode the valuable lessons of failure…

1. Study It

Start by analyzing your failures. Failure can constitute feedback regarding what you’re doing wrong, which permits you to adjust your actions until you do things right. But, many of us aren’t willing to look at our own mistakes. It makes us feel bad. However, in order to get a deep learning experience from failure we need to study them attentively, without falling to the other extreme and obsessing over them.

Study the facts. The fact is that there was a failure: you didn’t get the job, you didn’t make the sale, the relationship didn’t work out, and so on. Those are facts. That’s how you study failure. Anything beyond that is an interpretation, a meaning you’re giving to the situation.

2. Understand It

Failure is an opportunity, not a burden. It’s NOT the opposite of success. Failure is a bridge to success. It’s an initiation rite, the necessary steps you must take no matter how hard, no matter how tenuous.

Failure is NOT about making mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable and part of the journey. Mistakes are lessons. They’re stepping stones. They’re guideposts. If you don’t make mistakes you will not achieve anything. On the other hand, REAL failure is when you walk away from an opportunity. When you give up on your dreams to do something more “practical.” Failure is when you take the “sad sap” route, throw yourself a “pity party” and focus on thoughts about why you’re not good enough.

If you change the way you view failure and understand it for the life-changing experience it is, you can begin to take advantage of all the benefits that come along with it.

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3. Learn From It

Failure offers great learning lessons if you choose to approach it with a positive attitude. You can only receive what failure has to teach if you’re willing to fully embrace the failure itself. There’s no other way of learning other than by making mistakes. Failure teaches you that success rarely comes in the form of a “big break.” More often than not, it comes after months, even years of hard work.

Failure teaches you to try many avenues before giving up on reaching a goal because there’s usually more than one way to get there.

Failure can teach you where you went wrong in the first place and how you can pick yourself up again in a pursuit to succeed.

Failure can teach you that you’re not bad at something, just that you have to try a different method to find success.

Failure can reveal critical errors in your thinking, approach or game-plan and force you to make necessary adjustments. It may close one door, but will open another that’s better suited for your success.

There are always a million reasons to quit. But one reason to go on. You’ll have a happier more fulfilled life if you try your best to study, understand and learn from failure. Great. So now that we’re clear on that, why should you love to fail?

Here’s why…

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3 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Love to Fail

Success takes willpower, intelligence, determination and grit. But above all else, success requires failure.

Failure is the blacksmith’s hammer that tempers the sword of success.

Reason #1: Failure Means You’re Trying

Success is a moment. It’s fleeting, you work so hard for it but you will rarely savor it. But what really matters, isn’t success, it’s trying. Success is in the reaching, not the arriving. It’s constantly trying to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

If you haven’t failed yet, chances are you aren’t trying very hard.

When you stop trying, you allow opportunity to pass you by. But when you try, you push yourself to dream, to do better, to look beyond the present and ultimately embrace the moment you are blessed to live in. So keep trying. Keep pushing. Keep believing in dreams that others don’t think are possible.

Reason #2: Failure Builds Character

Character in life is what makes people believe in you and is essential for individual success. It’s the most important trait you can have and takes a lifetime to build but can be lost in an instant.

A person with good character finds acceptance wherever he goes and is respected by all. In addition, character can help you develop a pleasant personality.

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Nothing is more important for true success in life. Life is nothing without it.

Failure helps you build character because it sheds light to who you currently are. Failure can show you if you give up, complain or blame others. This can help you make adjustments in your character so that you become successful.

Reason #3: Failure Helps You Overcome Fear

Fear is a useless emotion. It does nothing but cause negative effects. The feeling of fear is not productive, nor is it a necessary or important part of achieving success. Fear limits your full potential. It’s pervasive. And if you let it, fear can haunt everything you do.

Fear does not contribute to life, but rather it takes away so much from life. It takes away chances, experiences, choices, dreams, hopes, love, friendships, connections, possibilities… Fear is an anchor that must be cast off in order to live your life in the most honest, real and successful way possible.

As you begin to fail more and more, you start fearing less and less. And when fear drops low enough, you’ll reach a point where it’s no longer preventing you from taking action.

Failure is the Beginning of Success

Ninety percent of times, fear of failure is entirely internal. It really is. It’s you second-guessing yourself on something that you know you can do. Why do you know you can do it? Because you conceived the idea. It wouldn’t be possible if you couldn’t think of it. Let’s face it, if you want to accomplish something in life, even something huge, the answer to do that is already out there.

So, how could you fear failing, when failing is so important to success?

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It doesn’t matter if you tried and failed a dozen times. Those failures just told you what doesn’t work. The difference lies in your response to failure. Most will give up. Most will cave in. Most won’t stick it out. But you do. And that is the difference. Success is what comes after you have survived all your failures. You have to fight through the bad days so you can earn the best days of your life. Success is what happens when you stick it out! Grind it out! And that is why I love to fail.

How about you? Do you love to fail?

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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