One of the terms that I often hear being used in my training is the concept of “failure habits”.
Failure habits are habitual ways of thinking or acting that virtually guarantee we will fail at whatever it is that we are trying to accomplish in life.
One “failure habit” that I have very recently become increasingly aware of is the habit of creating “failure stories”.
What are failure stories?
Failure stories are little stories that we create in our minds to rationally justify why we failed to accomplish something we wanted to accomplish in our lives.
Almost all of us create failure stories in our minds unconsciously without even realizing it.
It’s very difficult to even realize that we have these stories running through our minds. It’s actually a lot easier to spot them in other people than it is in yourself unless you really look for them.
So what do failure stories look / sound like? How do we become aware of them?
Well, the first step is to start noticing them in other people. It’s really easy to do that as most people spend their entire lives walking around telling people about their failure stories.
Here’s some of the types of examples I’ve heard before:
“I tried doing that business, but at that time in my life I was way too busy with too many things and just didn’t have the time to really focus on it so it didn’t work out.”
“I’ve tried losing weight, but I’ve got a genetic thyroid issue that makes it almost impossible to lose weight.”
“I’ve actually made good money before, but I self sabotaged myself because of the lack mentality I grew up with when I was younger.”
“My business idea was good, but it didn’t work out because the economy was bad.”
“I tried making money online, but I got in too late.”
“I could make so much money online but I’m not a marketer.”
“The Law of Attraction doesn’t work for me because of my beliefs. I tried it, and I know it works for others, but because of my beliefs it doesn’t work for me.”
“The cake didn’t turn out because my stove is old.”
The next time you’re talking to someone, just listen to how often people tell you their failure stories.
Whenever someone tells you how something didn’t work out for them – whether it be a relationship, a job, a business venture, whatever – they always have a failure story that explains and justifies WHY it didn’t work out.
Look for the keywords “tried” and “but” and “because”. As in “I tried doing that, but it didn’t work because of this and also that.”
Once you start listening for it you’ll be amazed at how often people walk around talking like this.
Once you become aware of just how often people all around us use failure stories in their day to day conversations, you will also probably start to notice yourself doing the same thing.
I know I have.
What’s Wrong With Failure Stories?
The biggest challenge with failure stories is that they simply aren’t true.
The reason we tell ourselves why we failed to accomplish something is almost NEVER the real reason why we failed.
There is a real reason, but it’s almost NEVER the one we tell ourselves.
How do I know this?
Well, think about this. Consider something in your life that you’ve been successful at.
For example, lets say that you are successful at playing an instrument – like let’s say the guitar.
Now, think about all the people out there who tried to play the guitar and failed.
You know the ones.
Well what do they say to you when they see you playing guitar?
“Oh, man you’re really good at guitar. I tried playing guitar once, but my fingers are too small.”
“I tried learning guitar but my fingers are too big.”
“I tried playing guitar but I don’t have the time to practice for hours and hours every day.”
Think about what you’ve been successful at…
Have you been successful at keeping your body fit and healthy?
Have you been successful at reading personal development books?
Have you been successful at raising a family?
Have you been successful at training your dog?
Have you been successful at playing an instrument?
Have you been successful at using the Law of Attraction?
Whatever it is that you’re successful at, when you talk to people who are not successful at that one thing, don’t they tell you the most ridiculous failure stories?
“Oh I can’t train my dog, he’s too old.”
“Oh I can’t stay fit, I don’t have time to spend 4h/day at a gym.”
“I can’t play an instrument, I’m not talented.”
“I can’t be fit, it’s not in my genes.”
Aren’t most of the failure stories that OTHER people tell us about why they’re not successful complete bullshit?
Isn’t the REAL reason why they didn’t succeed at what they wanted to succeed at something totally different?
Just start listening to people tell their stories and you’ll know what I mean.
How do they know that the Law of Attraction doesn’t work for them because of their beliefs? What if it’s something else?
How do they know that the real reason they can’t play guitar is because their fingers are too small, or too big? What if it’s something else?
How do they know that the real reason they don’t read books is because they’re not good at reading? What if it’s something else?
Once you start seeing just how ridiculous most people’s failure stories are, it’s time to turn the mirror on yourself.
Why are you not successful at _______________ ?
Get a piece of paper out and write down something you wanted to become successful at in your life and then write down all the reasons why you think it didn’t work for you.
I did this last night with one really, really big goal in my life that I haven’t yet achieved.
I made a list of possible reasons that I have not been successful at this yet.
I ended up writing down about 7 or 8 possible reasons.
Telling the Truth
The next step is to tell the truth.
And I believe this next step is a very profound step.
What is the truth?
The truth is simply this…
… maybe, just maybe, we don’t yet know why we failed to accomplish something.
Admitting the fact that we don’t KNOW why we failed is a huge step in success. For example, we could change the statements above to:
“I tried doing that business and it didn’t work out for me, but I don’t yet know why it didn’t work out.”
“I’ve tried losing weight but I don’t yet know why I haven’t lost it.”
“I’ve actually made good money before and I feel like I sabotaged myself, but I don’t yet know why.”
“My business idea was good, but it didn’t work out, but I don’t yet know why.”
“I tried making money online, but I haven’t yet, and I don’t yet know why.”
“I feel like I could make a lot of money online but I don’t yet know why I haven’t so far.”
“The Law of Attraction doesn’t appear to work for me, but I don’t know why yet.”
“The cake didn’t turn and I don’t yet know why.”
Just admitting that we don’t yet know why we failed is a huge step forward.
By opening up the “I don’t know what I don’t know” door, it allows the Universe to help you become aware WHY things actually didn’t work out.
Otherwise, you’re clinging onto a lie that doesn’t help you.
Failure Stories Rob You Blind
As a coach and mentor, I very often have people come to me asking me for advice on a specific challenge they’re having in their lives.
The challenge is that almost always, they also have a preexisting failure story attached to that challenge.
For example, they will say “Yeah Mark, I can’t seem to grow the traffic to my Blog because I don’t have an email list, what do you suggest?”
or “Yeah Mark, the Law of Attraction doesn’t work for me because I just don’t believe in it, so what do I do?”
They present the main challenge (no traffic, LoA not working) but then they throw in these assumptions of what THEY think the reason is.
The thing is that 99.9999999999% of the time, the reason that they THINK is causing them failure is NOT the real reason.
The biggest challenge then becomes getting them to actually LET GO of the preexisting “failure story” that they already convinced themselves of, so that they can see the ACTUAL solution to their problem.
In almost all cases, it’s actually harder to get people to let go of their failure story then it is to get them to implement the real solution!
Imagine if someone came to you and said “I can’t tie my shoelaces because I’m not left-handed.”
Assuming you are right-handed yourself, and you know how to tie your shoe laces, what would you say to them?
You would probably say “Wait. What do you mean? You don’t need to be left-handed to tie your show laces. I can teach you how to tie your shoe laces even if you’re right handed.”
Now imagine that they then say “No, both my parents were left-handed and so is my brother and they all knew how to tie their shoe laces very easily. My brother learned it in 5 minutes. I tried but it doesn’t work for me because I’m right handed. That’s why I always buy shoes with no laces.”
You might say “Wait, that’s not true. There are billions of people on this planet that are right handed, including me, and we can tie our shoe laces. Let me show you…”
And imagine them saying “No, that can’t be right. I already know that I’ll never be able to tie my shoe laces because I’m not left-handed. Thanks anyways.”
Wouldn’t that drive you nuts? 🙂
Do you realize that there is a VERY high chance that somewhere in your life right now you are doing the exact same thing to someone else?
You’re very likely using your fictional, made-up “failure story” as an excuse not to be able to do something, and when someone tries to help you solve that problem you’re denying their help because you are convinced that your failure story is true.
How to Stop Failure Stories from Causing More Failure
The first step to stopping failure stories from becoming a failure habit in your life is to become aware of them.
Write down something you want to accomplish or wanted to accomplish in your life on a piece of paper.
Then, write down a list of possible reasons that pop into your head which would explain why you failed.
Those “reasons” are your failure stories.
It doesn’t matter how reasonable and logical and true they sound – they are just stories. They may or may not be the REAL reason why you didn’t succeed.
Next, below all of those reasons write down “THE REAL REASON:”
And below that write down these words…
“The truth is that I don’t know why I failed to accomplish this yet, and I’m open to learning the truth.”
This truth statement will set you free.
Admitting that you don’t know is a HUGE step forward.
Only once we admit that we don’t know can we manifest the truth to come into our lives and to enlighten us.
We must first empty our cup of lies in order to fill it up with truth.
Next, seek the advice of people who are already successful at accomplishing what it is that you want to accomplish.
Ask them for advice and REALLY LISTEN.
Don’t assume you already know the reason why you failed. Ask them to tell you why THEY think you failed.
Chances are that their opinion – having already accomplished what you want to accomplish – will be a lot closer to the real truth than any of your failure stories.