How top performers effortlessly bounce back from failure

A few of weeks back, I heard a great story about a psychology professor.

He gave all his students a piece of paper, with a black dot in the middle. It looked like this:

Then he said, “I want you to write about what you see here for the next hour.”

Once his students were finished writing, he took all the reports and read them out loud. Every single one of his students wrote about the same thing.

The little black dot.

“It’s funny how all of you wrote about the black dot. I’m curious, why didn’t any of you write about the white part of the paper?”

Here’s what he meant:

In life, it’s easy to focus on our own little “black dots.” Things like health issues, our finances, complicated relationships. And, what happens if we only focus on those black dots?

We feel irritated, stressed, disappointed (not really productive emotions). We often do the same thing when something didn’t go as we’d planned or when we’re afraid to try new things.

We focus on what could go wrong — the black dot — instead of focusing on what could go right.

So today, I’ll show you the strategy my Executive clients use to effortlessly overcome any kind of failure.

Here’s what we’ll go through:

  • The Little Lies We All Tell Ourselves
  • The “Invisible Frames” Controlling Your Life
  • Failing Is Not Failure. Failing Is Feedback

 

The little lies we all tell ourselves

Imagine you’re watching a football game. Thousands of people are cheering for their favorite team.

TOUCHDOWN!

The crowd goes berserk and the announcer’s scream run through the speakers like a racehorse on steroids. Now imagine all this noise is happening inside your own head.

In psychology, this is your self-talk. It’s that little voice inside your head commenting on your life.

Here’s the thing…

The words we say are usually a lot different from the words we’re thinking. Especially when we’re afraid of something that might fail:

A new business idea, investor meetings, difficult conversations with employees.

We say things like:

  • “Honestly, it’s just not the right time right now. Maybe next month?”
  • “I would love to do XYZ, but I just don’t have time”
  • “I don’t have enough money”
  • “It’s a good idea, but I don’t think it will work in this market”

Are any of these true? The short (and boring) answer is… it depends.

Most of the time it’s just an underlying fear of failing. Disguised as excuses like time, money or experience.

For example:

GOING TO THE GYM

  • WHAT WE SAY: “I’d like to lose the last 5 lbs. But, I just don’t have time”
  • WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS: “I didn’t reach my goal the last time I did this. Why would I reach it now? I don’t want to feel like a failure”

STARTING A BUSINESS

  • WHAT WE SAY: “I’ve been thinking about starting my own business. But, I just don’t have enough money to get things started”
  • WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS: “I’m scared it won’t work out. I don’t want my family to say ‘See, I told you it wouldn’t work’”

The “invisible frames” controlling your life

Here’s what fear of failure really is: It’s a belief of what might, or might not, happen. In Rise Performance, it’s what we call “Invisible Frames.”

Think back to the story from before about the black dot. If you only focus on the black dot, you’re trapped inside your own Invisible Frame.

And, when you’re trapped inside an Invisible Frame one thing’s for sure:

You’ll never find a solution to solve your problem.

Instead, what if you could use your fear of failing, as the ultimate form of motivation? Motivation to take more chances, have that difficult conversation with your spouse or finally go to the gym.

Question is, how?

You only need to change your Invisible Frame. Luckily, you don’t need a lot of practice to change it. In fact, you’ll learn how in under 30 seconds.

 

Failing is not failure. Failing is feedback

Let’s say you have something you’ve been putting off, maybe a week, a month… half a year. It doesn’t matter what it is, just come up with something.

Then, start off by using The 5 Why Technique.

If you don’t know The 5 Why Technique, it’s dead simple: You ask yourself “why XYZ” five times. That’s really all there is to it.

For example:

What’s the problem: You should prepare your presentation for the next manager’s meeting. But somehow, you always end up in front of the T.V., binge-watching old episodes of The Wire.

  • Why? You’re too tired when you get home and should prepare your presentation
  • Why are you so tired? Your head is spinning because of 10 different meetings during the day
  • Why is your calendar filled up with meetings? You feel it’s important that you attend those meetings
  • Why do you need to attend those meetings? Because you can’t motivate yourself enough to prepare the presentation
  • Why can’t you motivate yourself to do the presentation? You’re afraid everybody thinks the presentation is not good enough

True behavioral change happens when you understand the root of the problem. The 5 Why Technique is the perfect tool to find the problem… behind the problem.

Now you understand the problem. Next, you need to get your psychology straight. Let’s dive into how you easily overcome any fear of failing. It’s called The Failure Feedback Strategy.

The best part? It’s simple.

Let’s imagine you have to start a new business. You’re excited, you’re motivated, and then…

You feel your stomach turning. What if it doesn’t work? What if it fails? What if you’re going to look like a failure?

In that split-second you feel the resistance, say this:

The Failure Feedback Strategy: “No matter what happens, it’s not a failure. It’s feedback.”

Essentially, when you feel you’ve failed, it’s only because of one thing:

Your result didn’t match your expectations.

Think back to the famous quote from Thomas Edison.

I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” — Thomas Edison

The truth is, failure is only your own interpretation of what happened to you. That’s why getting your psychology straight comes first, tactics come second.

Top performers have a very specific mindset:

They spend 90% of their time on the solution. Only 10% on the problem.

 

Conclusion

We all fail. The real question isn’t whether or not you’ll fail.

It’s only a matter of when!

At the end of the day you have two choices:

You can let fear of failing control you, or…
You can control your fear of failure, by changing the meaning from failure to feedback

All behavioral change in your life starts with brutal honesty. Remember: when you fear you might fail, that’s only your expectation of what might happen (or won’t happen).

So, to overcome any fear of failure, this is what you do:

(1) use The 5 Why Technique, and then (2) use The Failure Feedback Strategy: “It’s not a failure. It’s feedback.”

Want more advice, strategies and tactics like this?

Sign up today for a FREE 30-minute Results Coaching session and learn how to use psychology to grow your business, reach your next level and develop strong relationships.

Why traditional goal-setting fails. Do this instead

We all know goal-setting is important. We also know that we should write them down on paper. The real question is: how do you stay motivated while keeping a consistent focus on reaching your goal?

What usually happens? We end up trying a whole bunch of different tactics to keep us on track:

  • We painstakingly put our goal through every single criterion on the SMART model
  • We set a ton of reminders on our phone which we never follow up on
  • We write our goal down on huge notepads and post-its to keep us focused

We do all the “right” things, according to the goal-setting experts. But in the real world, these tactics, never really work. Most of the time we end up losing our motivation during the process.

Why does this happen?

Let me introduce you to a concept we call The Success Pyramid:


How to reach your goals with The Success Pyramid

What did you notice?

The strategy and tactics you use is just 20% of the equation. 80% of your success is getting your psychology straight and mastering the fundamentals.

Obviously, the strategy and the tactics are important. But mastering the fundamentals and your psychology is always the #1 factor you need to reach your goals.

The brutal truth?

There’s only one reason nobody talks about the psychology and the fundamentals: They’re not sexy to talk about. It’s way easier to talk about different goal-setting strategies, instead of doing some hard work up front.

That’s why most “experts” spend so much time explaining their strategies, tactics, and frameworks to you.

Of course, reaching your goals is hard work. But it doesn’t need to be complicated.

Today, I’m going to teach you our Success Pyramid Strategy. This will help you turn any of your goals, into reality.

No fluff, no nonsense, no B.S. Just a battle-tested system, that gets results.

Here’s what you’ll learn today:

Step #1: Get your fundamentals in place

Let’s be honest: Most people are terrible at goal setting. It’s the same reason over 80% fail their New Year’s resolution.

The problem isn’t they don’t have enough knowledge. The real problem is, they don’t have a system that guarantees they’ll get results. With that in mind, how do you avoid falling into the same category as the failed 80% of New Year’s resolutions?

Here’s the deal:

It doesn’t matter what kind of goal you have (it can be business, personal, or your relationship). If you only focus on these two things you’re about to learn — you will reach your goal.

Here’s what to do instead:

  1. Break your goal into the smallest and most actionable step
  2. Make it as specific and easy-to-understand as possible

Let’s take an example:

  • TERRIBLE GOAL: “I want to start my own business.”
  • GOOD GOAL: “I want to brainstorm a minimum of 20 business ideas by the end of next week. And after that, choose 1 idea I can test, and maybe develop into a business.”

You see, how the last goal focused more on the process, and not the end goal? And, how it was very specific, very actionable, and more importantly… very simple?

The funny thing is, most people know they “should” make their goals specific. But, when I ask them to tell me their goal, as specifically as possible, they usually end up with something like the first example.

Even the most successful and skilled executives and CEOs struggle with this step. I know, because I’ve coached a lot of them.

Writing your goal down, in plain English, as specifically as possible is something you need to get right from the beginning (even though it seems obvious). If you feel it’s a bit hard right now, don’t worry.

Just like learning how to ride a bike. Setting goals is a skill you develop, the more times you do it. Let’s look at the next step.

Step #2: Master the psychology of successful goal setting

Have you ever seen an elephant tied up to a small rope around its leg?

The Elephant and the Rope ProblemThe elephant and the rope problem

Now, why doesn’t the elephant break free? It can flip a car upside down, no problem, but it never tries to break free from the rope.

The reason is, when the elephant is a baby, it’s tied up with the exact same size rope. At that time, it’s more than enough to hold it. And as the elephant gets older, it starts to believe the rope is impossible to break.

In reality, the rope isn’t what’s holding it back. The thing that’s holding the elephant back is a belief — its own psychology.

The same is true with you. Your beliefs, or what we call “Invisible Frames,” is what potentially holds you back from reaching your goals and your full potential.

When we’re trapped in an Invisible Frame, we say things like:

  • NEGOTIATING SALARY: “I know I should negotiate my salary with my manager. But, it’s just not the right time”
  • SWITCHING CAREERS: “I can’t switch careers now. I need to get my ducks in a row”
  • RELATIONSHIPS: “Why doesn’t my wife understand, that it’s impossible for me to spend more time at home than I already do”

What would happen if you changed your Invisible Frame, and turned the problem upside down?

  • NEGOTIATING SALARY: “What’s the one thing I could do today, so I can speed up the negotiation process?”
  • SWITCHING CAREERS: “I could invite some people out for coffee who works for the company I want to work for”
  • RELATIONSHIPS: “I want to spend more time with my wife. I’ll take her out for dinner this week and I’ll make the table reservation today”

Your Invisible Frame Action Step:

Ask yourself: “What are some of my Invisible Frames, that’s holding me back from reaching my goals?”

Step #3: Your goal-setting system: How to create a bulletproof system that gets results

As I mentioned earlier: Setting goals is a skill. The more times you do it, the better you get.

That’s why I’m going to give a little bit of counter-intuitive advice, compared to what every other expert tells you.

What you don’t need to worry about:

  • Using fancy goal-setting models like SMART, BHAG, or GROW
  • Waiting for that sudden burst of motivation
  • Setting a goal that’s set 5 years into the future

Instead, you’re going to develop your goal-setting muscle. The easiest way to do it is by focusing on a short-term goal and forget the long-term goals, for now.

A 1-year goal is good, but 1 month is better.

Why? Because when you’re developing your goal-setting muscle you need to learn what goes right, and what goes wrong during the process. This way, you’re developing a sense of what works and what you can throw out the next time you set a goal.

So for now, forget about setting 5, 10, and even 20-year goals into the future. Once you master how to set successful goals, you can start focusing on more long-term goals.

Let’s take a look at the 3-step system that will help you set, and reach successful goals.

I’ve taught the exact same system to several successful CEOs, Executives, and entrepreneurs — and now you’ll learn it too.

Your Goal-Setting Action Steps:

  1. Set a short-term goal (max 1 year). Write it out in plain English, and with as many specific details as possible. Forget about jargon, and make it sound real. Make it sound like something you would tell a friend
  2. Write down a minimum of 3 action steps. I usually recommend writing both a daily, weekly, and a monthly action. Again, keep it simple and focus on writing it in plain English
  3. Set a calendar reminder for your deadline. Once you reach your deadline, sit down, and evaluate your progress. Did you reach your goal? What did you do right? What could you do differently? What did you learn? Write everything down.

Conclusion

Remember: Setting goals is a skill. Like everything else, you will develop it over time.

The best way to do it? Approach it like a scientist.

During the process and after you’ve hit your deadline, ask yourself:

  • “What didn’t go as I had hoped for?”
  • “What went right?”
  • “How can I do better next time?”

Do this, and you’re not only ahead of 95% of everybody who’s struggling to reach their goal. You’re also way more likely to actually reach your goal.