Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of the women’s undergarment sensation Spanx, wasn’t just encouraged to succeed by her father… she was encouraged to fail.
Sarah was quoted as saying, “my father used to ask my brother and me what we had failed at recently and then congratulate us. He did complete reverse psychology on us. Failure was something we sought out and not this scary thing. I think many people are debilitated by the fear of failure, so he gave us a real gift.”
Sara has also said that over time, because of his encouragement and (literal) high-fives for failing, that her definition of failure became not trying.
Part of having a good Go for No mindset is creating an empowering definition of failure.
Failure is one of the most emotionally loaded words in any language. For many people, the very idea of failing is enough to stop them cold. Success is, on the other hand, is a mythical, magical concept for the majority of people.
Who doesn’t want to be seen by others as a “success?” And of course, get all the physical “stuff” that comes with it?
This is why so many people will do virtually anything and sacrifice so much to achieve it… except, of course, everything but be labeled a failure. To achieve meaningful success, to be thought of as “successful” you must fail. That is what it means to fail your way to success.
Sara Blakely knew she’d have to go through a lot of no’s and experience failure as part of the process. It was made “okay” for her to do that. And that’s one of the greatest gifts any leader and any parent can give.
So now it looks like her Dad’s failure-focus paid off.
Comments? Please let me know your thoughts. And if you liked this post, please share! – AW
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