"Hey, life's tough."It was the semi-finals of the Las Vegas Invitational, the toughest college wrestling tournament in the nation short of the NCAA Championships. This was the advice that I heard a coach offer a struggling wrestler as he faced down an insurmountable deficit. I know. I've been there too. I've competed.
And I've failed.I've felt the heart wrenching pain that comes only when thousands of hours of training and voluntary self-abuse that most would consider insane culminates in failure. I've felt the crushing self-doubt that weighs heavily around your neck after repeated failure. I've experienced the hopelessness that comes from setting high goals only to be knocked back down the mountain, the deities of success seemingly telling you that there's no room at the top for you. You've been there too.
You've tried. You've set huge goals. And you've failed.For years you've heard others say that it's the journey that counts, but those words of affirmation ring hollow. They ring hollow, that is, unless you realize the value of your experience. They feel hollow unless you make the conscious choice to gain perspective on what you've learned and realize that failure is as common among the successful as it is for those who play small at the fringes of business, sport and life. But how? How do you learn to use your failure and self-doubt as tools for your success? How do you turn crushing defeat into lasting success?
Tony Robbins has said that, "Successful people ask better questions and, as a result, they get better answers."I host a podcast, Wrestling with Success, where I interview former athletes- football, endurance athletes, wrestlers and others- who've gone on to significant success outside of sports. Guests include astronauts, CEO's and billionaires. The single most common habit that my guests share is that they take the time to ask themselves the right questions. Whether through meditation, journaling or prayer. I have defined this as a Productive Pause. The Productive Pause is a short period of focused reflection around specific questions that leads to clarity of action and peace of mind.
So what are these questions?Here are three that, if you ask yourself just one and answer it honestly, you'll find clarity of action and peace of mind in your life. 1) What are you not doing that, if you were, would most move you toward your goals? 2) What is it that you fear that's holding you back? 3) If you could improve one area of your life, what would it be and how would you do it? I recommend that you find a life coach who can ask you these types of questions. Many of my guests have a life coach. I recommend you find one orstart a mastermind group.
We all need someone in our lives who holds us to a higher standard than we believe we can attain.And we all need someone who will ask us the tough questions that we're not willing to face alone. I had coaches and teammates to do that. I was a college wrestler. In the end, I triumphed. I was a Division I All American. Despite a string of failures that gave me reason to believe that it wasn't possible, I succeeded. Now, nearly two decades hence, I realize that it was the journey that taught me what's most important but only because I asked myself the right questions.
And when I did, I learned.I learned that I can work when it's painful. I can push when others choose to quit. I can execute when all hope appears lost. I am comfortable being uncomfortable. And I learned that I can defeat my self-doubt. Learning about yourself through failure opens up the world to you. It reveals your fears and doubts and it puts them into the light where you can examine the logic-driven actions rather than the emotionally-driven ones. Ask yourself hard questions and you will get powerful answers. Ask yourself the right questions and you will learn that failure is your path to success. Because, hey, life's tough. About the author: Failure, struggle and setbacks are not only an inevitable part of life but a necessary step on the path to success. Speaker, coach and podcast host Jim Harshaw shares powerful stories to empower his clients and audiences to overcome their own challenges and achieve success despite their inevitable failures. Learn more at: http://www.JimHarshawJr.com Listen to my interview with Ken Lubin of Executive Athletes: