3 min read

Comfort With Failure is the Key to Nearly Everything

Comfort With Failure is the Key to Nearly Everything

Right at 2:27 in this excellent Mark Manson YouTube video is a phrase that nearly blew me out my chair when I read it.

Here it is:

"Confidence is not the expectation of Success. Confidence is a comfort with failure."

Oh. My. God.

Mark is using this phrase in the context of self-respect in this particular video, but I see it in a much broader sense– it's everything.

Comfort with failure is that thing, that obvious-when-you-know-it bedrock that genuinely confident people stand on every day. These are people that I look up to, who I aspire to be. People that always seem calm, level-headed, unshaken, and confident– simply because they are less afraid of failing than most people.

That steely-eyed competitor in a sport that can execute under pressure consistently. The consultant that swoops in and saves the project time and time again. The CEO with the "golden touch". The person that succeeds over and over with the "craziest" business ideas.

They ask the dumb questions (not afraid of being wrong/looking wrong), they aren't defensive (not afraid of judgement or perceptions), and they don't quit early (not afraid of the project failing, looking bad, or losing).

If failure happens, it happens. The confident person is not worried about that future state. They are focused on what's important right now.

Will the business acquisition work out? Will the new venture be a disaster? Will I be poor? Will I freeze up and choke in the tournament? Will my team lose the game?

Cycles of failure or inaction are almost always underpinned by fear.

Pretty hard to be confident without recognizing this, then breaking out of this cycle permanently.

Being comfortable with failure in any situation does the following:

  • Allows you to focus on the process and not the outcome (aka not watching the scoreboard while also playing the game)
  • Transforms "nerves" into "anticipation/excitement"
  • Clears the mind to just do the thing
  • Telegraphs confidence to others, which is palpable
  • Opens the mind to learning and growth

Just listen to David Goggins, who posted this just this week: "The first part of my success was learning how to fail properly." Goggins is a man who is not afraid to fail, and that trait alone is the foundation of his incredibly inspirational life.

Stepping out on your own and starting your own business can trigger fear and doubt that you haven't experienced in years, maybe decades. That fear is everywhere and will sabotage every move you try to make, from that first sales pitch to that big mid-project panic.

Make peace with the possibility of failing as often as you can. Take on that project that nobody can figure out. Save that client that nobody can save. Make that networking introduction you've always wanted to make.

Now that you know how much fear could be undermining your success, you have the keys to be that "confident person" that you've always looked up to!