Monday Mindset:  How to overcome failure, get back on track and achieve your goals


“When people tell you they see a lot of potential in you, it feels pretty good. It motivates you. You want to work hard to prove them right. But “potential” is simply the possibility of becoming. And “potential” has a shelf life.

Terry Gurno – Leading is Art


One of the hardest things I’ve ever done:

Was to stand in front of a group of people (2,000) every week that I was leading when I had absolutely no confidence in my ability to do so.  I was supposed to be encouraging, offer hope, clear direction and practical steps to move forward and I didn’t even have that for myself.  I felt like a complete failure and phony, even sick to my stomach week in and week out.   


We all know that failure is a part of life.  

Most of us have heard that quote by Thomas J Watson of IBM, “if you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate”.   My failure rate was really high and there was no success in sight for me.   Although this quote may be true, no one really wants to increase their failure rate.  That’s just not how we’re wired.  


Sometimes we fail small, it doesn’t really affect anyone but us.  

Sometimes we fail big, it affects alot of people.  The big failures seem even bigger because people talk about it, about you, and for some weird reason we love to talk about other’s failure. Probalby because it makes us feel better about our own.


I failed big and it was the most difficult time in my life  

I was the pastor of a 2,000 plus church and had no confidence in my ability to lead or even make a decision.  It affected every relationship in my life; my family, the staff, board and congregation I was leading and my friends.  I withdrew and isolated myself from everyone.  I thought I was somehow protecting myself from more pain, but it just made it worse.  


Here’s the good new: 

5 years later (I wish it didn’t take that long) I was leading again.  Getting past my failure didn’t happen overnight, I’m just thankful that it did. I would never want to relive that time in my life again, but now I’m glad I did.


How to overcome failure, bet back on track and achieve your goals:


  1. Accept it:  This is the first place to start.  Failure is a part of life.  We don’t have to like it, but we do have to accept it’s going to happen. It is what it is, but life IS going to go on and so must you.  



  • Turn to your tribe:  Whatever you do, don’t Isolate yourself from the people that really care about you.  Your team are those people you know, like and trust.  This is your family, your close friends, trusted co-workers, mentor or coach.  They will be honest with you and give you the feedback you need to move you forward.  



  1. Learn from it:  Use failure as feedback and let it teach you.  Why did I fail?  What happened? As we do this we will learn what NOT do to again, what to do different or what else to try.  


  1. Focus on where you’re going:  Too often we get stuck because we focus on the failure.  We beat it to death, replaying it over and over again in our head.  Acknowledge it, accept it and get your focus back on where you’re going or what you’re wanting to do.  



  • Get going:  Do what you have to do to accomplish what you want to accomplish.  Go back to the drawing board, re-start, take a new approach, whatever it is, get going!



In my book LEADING IS ART, I talk about my 10 Painful Leadership Lessons.  The rest of the book is really about how I applied what I learned to lead again.   I couldn’t have written this blog or my book without having gone through this myself.  

Failure doesn’t mean you’re finished!


If you feel like you’re stuck, having a hard time getting back on track and could use someone to help please click here to set up a time to talk.


Helping you WIN, Terry!

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