It’s Not Failure. It’s Feedback.

reframe failure into feedback
Failure is constructive feedback that tells you to try a different approach to accomplish what you want. 
Idowu Koyenikan, Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I had been tossing and turning in my bed all night, trying to catch some much needed zzz. But my mind couldn’t rest.

The evening before I had sent an email to my subscribers, letting them know I was offering a new coaching service. 

It was something I knew they wanted. They’d been asking me to create something like this for months. 

Now launch date was here, I panicked I had bitten off more than I could chew. Where would I find the time to handle all my new clients? 

I opened Gmail, expecting to see a stream of sales orders pouring into my account.

*crickets*

In the past 10 hours, no one had bought my coaching programme. Not a single person. 

The launch had been a massive failure.

I was a failure.

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Failure Isn’t Personal, So Why Does It Feel Like It?

As I stared at the blank screen, taking in the lack of orders for my coaching services, my Inner Mean Girl reared her ugly head:

“I told you this was a bad idea. Who did you think you are, Marie Forleo? You’re not good enough to be a coach. You messed everything up and made a fool of yourself.”

Failure hits you where it hurts you the most: your ego. It’s the part of you that takes everything personally.

When it takes a hit, it bullies you back into your comfort zone. “I’m a failure” or “I don’t have what it takes to make it happen” are the weapons it uses to make you quit – and ensure you’ll keep playing small from now on.

If you’re tired of playing this game and waiting for your dreams to magically happen on their own, you need to keep your ego in check and get comfortable with failure. 

But… how?!

Need help taming that bullying voice in your head? Click on the image below to download the “Silence Your Inner Mean Girl” cheatsheet to turn your inner critic into your biggest supporter.

 

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Related: 3 Non-Scary Ways To Overcome The Fear Of Rejection

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Failure Is Just Feedback

What’s failure? 

The dictionary defines it as a “lack of success”. It may be correct, but it’s incomplete. It doesn’t tell you why it happened.

Why did you fail? That’s where the ego, your Inner Mean Girl, jumps in. She screams, loud and clear, that it’s all your fault. You’re not good enough.

You know now that’s just a trick she plays to keep you in your comfort zone. So, the question remains, “why didn’t you succeed?”

Failure’s job is to give you the answer. It’s there to let you know when you took a wrong turn, went down the wrong path, tried the wrong thing. Failure is there to set you back on the right track. 

Will you listen to it and course correct? Or will you just give up?

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The Problem With Expectations

By the way… what does “lack of success” even mean?

For one person, getting 3 people to sign up for her coaching services would be the most amazing thing ever. For someone else, that’s a colossal failure. Why is that?

Expectations. You label an experience as a failure when you have high expectations for it in the first place.

I was sure my coaching services would sell out because people were asking me to offer them… for free. No one ever mentioned they’d pay for them.

Eventually, the first few sales tricked in. But it was far from the instant sell-out success I had envisioned.

If I had let go of all expectations and treated the whole thing as an experiment (after all, it was the first time I was asking my audience to pay for anything in more than 10 years), I wouldn’t have been so disappointed. I wouldn’t have felt like a failure.

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How To Reframe Failure Into Feedback

If you’re brave enough to follow a dream and make a difference in the world, you’ll experience setbacks. 

Here’s how to reframe these “failures” into feedback, so you can move forward on your journey instead than throwing in the towel:

Step 1: Substitute Expectations With Intentions

Expectations only lead to disappointment. If something doesn’t go according to plan, you’ll feel like you messed up big time.

Instead, think about what your intention is. What are you trying to achieve through your work?

Instead than expecting 100 people to sign up for my coaching services straight away, I could have set the intention to create the best possible offering and sharing it with the people who needed it the most. 

Same if you’re writing a new blog post. Sure, it’d be nice to have 1000 people read it the day it goes live, but that’s an expectation you have no control over. 

Instead, think about why you’re writing that blog post. Is it to share your message with the world? To connect with other like-minded people?

These intentions are easier to achieve and will bring you more fulfillment, too.

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Step 2: Gather Feedback

So, something didn’t go as planned. Instead than feeling sorry for yourself, figure out what happened:

  1. What didn’t work?
  2. What went well?
  3. What can you change/improve next time?
  4. Is this something that I really want to do?
  5. Is this the right time for this project?

If you’re unsure about what happened, ask someone else for feedback. Pick someone you can trust to tell you the truth, especially when it’s not something you’re happy to hear.

Remember: you’re just gathering feedback at this point. It’s not about pointing the blame. You just want to understand what happened and how you can improve.

When I started collecting feedback, I realised I hadn’t prepared my audience for the launch. 

Instead than teasing about my future coaching programme and getting them excited to buy, I had just emailed them with the finished offer out of the blue. 

I later learned that many wanted to buy, they just hadn’t had the time to budget for it! 

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Step 3. Tweak Your Approach And Try Again

Now that you have a good idea of what went wrong as well as what you did right, you can now make a new game plan.

Keep what’s right (obvs) and tweak the rest. I knew my coaching programme was good. It was my launch blueprint that needed tweaking.

I went back to the drawing board and created an email sequence to send to my subscribers. I gave away some useful tips they could implement straight away to reassure them the programme worked, shared the personal struggles that led me to create this offering, and answered all the questions they had about it.

This time, people bought.

Now it’s your turn. What decisions can you make based on the feedback you gathered? What can you change next time to turn a failure into a success?

Don’t overthink it. Make a decision and move forward.

Related: 5 Ways To Overcome Self-Doubt And Do That Thing You’ve Always Dreamed Of

There is no failure. Only feedback. Gather as much information as you can and tweak your approach as many times as you need to. 

You’ll get there.

Over to you, now. Think of a project or situation that didn’t go according to your plan. How can you reframe that failure into feedback so you can achieve your goal next time around? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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