No one wants to fail but we all do at some point or another. The key is not to let a "failure" (and who defines this anyway, as Joan points out) define you or distract you from your dream or a seemingly elusive goal. Joan talks about dusting yourself off and plowing through. Falling short is not an excuse to give up. Winston Churchill said it simply: "If you're going through hell, keep going."
Q. You appear to be successful. Was there ever a time when you were afraid to fail?
Joan: Oh my gosh, yes! When I first started working I was afraid of everything. I was afraid that no one would care what I had to say. I was afraid that people would be laughing at me. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle the work. I was afraid that I wasn’t smart enough.
And during those time, I recall a Japanese proverb: Fall down seven times, get up eight.
Throughout the past decade, since I created my companies and brand, I had moments when I didn’t think I could go on. When something didn’t go my way, I immediately thought I was a failure.
How many times have you had an idea or dream about doing something and before you can even process the thought, the laundry list of reasons why you can’t accomplish it pops into your head? If you’re like me, that list goes on and on and on.
Q. What causes those nagging self-doubts?
Joan: In reality, the underlying reason, that is masked by all those “what ifs” is usually fear. Fear that you will fail.
Fear of failure has dictated many of my actions for a large part of my life. It wasn’t until recent years that I decided to face this demon head-on and show it who’s boss. It wasn’t until I decided that there was no such thing as failure that I was able to continue forward and not let setbacks impact my momentum.
Q. How do you view failure?
Joan: What does it mean to fail? What is this thing that we fear so much? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, failure is defined as the omission of occurrence or performance; lack of success; a falling short.
When I look at this definition, I can’t help but wonder, what are the determining factors of failure, and by whose standards is failure measured? Is failure a self-imposed sentence or is there some great Failure Master in the universe that passes judgment? At what precise moment in time is one determined a failure? And if determined as such, what is the punishment that we receive? Is it so horrific and life ending that we should avoid following our dreams at all costs?
Not everything in life goes according to plan. In fact, most things don’t. But, the key is to reframe your thoughts to view setbacks as the opportunity to readjust and keep forging ahead. Sometimes in the journey, rejection leads to a better opportunity and instead of going from point A to B, you end up at point J. That doesn’t mean you failed.
Q. What do we do when that negative voice gets in our head?
Joan: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish something (especially that voice inside your head).
Don’t let anyone derail your mission.
Hold on to the following examples of people that could have very easily given up on their dreams, but instead they held steadfast and kept plugging away. Thank goodness they did!
J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, was nearly penniless, recently divorced, depressed, and raising a child on her own when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. She was rejected by 12 publishers.
Dr Seuss was rejected by 27 different publishers. John Grisham’s first book was rejected 28 times, and Steven King’s Carrie received dozens of rejections.
Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, was 65 years old when he drove around the country knocking on doors offering restaurant owners his chicken recipe. It is believed that he was rejected 1,009 times before someone said yes!
Walt Disney’s first animation company went bankrupt. He was fired by a news editor because he lacked imagination. Legend has it that he was turned down 302 times before he got financing to create Disney World. Imagine Walt Disney being told he wasn’t creative!
The great painter, Vincent Van Gogh, only sold one painting in his lifetime. Despite that, he kept painting and he has become one of the most famous painters in the world.
Steven Spielberg applied and was denied admission to the prestigious University of Southern California film school. Instead he went to school elsewhere and has gone on to direct some of the most successful films ever made including Jaws, ET, and Indiana Jones.
Everyone has setbacks along the way. Don’t let yours be the end of the road.