How you define FAILURE…

…is one of the most crucial factors influencing how much fulfillment & impact you will have in either limiting or realizing your God-given potential.

Most humans define failure in terms of the wrong outcomes, and define themselves as a success or a failure accordingly.    Therefore most humans play small, and live life way below their potential.

In watching a clip from Coach Carter with an entrepreneurial team on fire in practice #47, we were reminded how failure can be one of the most debilitating fears.   In the clip, Coach Carter challenges his basketball players to stop sabotaging themselves:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.   Your playing small does not serve the world.  There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people  permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—Marianne Williamson

In Edwin Friedman’s Failure Of Nerve – Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix,  Friedman flips the definition of failure to something YOU decide, something YOU control in your own core.

There’s four things Friedman says the greatest leaders and greatest teams do which are the opposite of a failure of nerve, and this team is challenging themselves and each other to embrace them, and we’ve been working through them one at a time over the past couple practices.

Here’s the first one.  When confronted by fear, conflict, adversity, challenge, threat, opportunity, etc., most humans REACT.    Those who have trained their core do not – they SELF-REGULATE.     Reacting is normal, but it’s a failure of nerve.   Most people who are incarcerated are in prison because they FAILED in controlling their emotions, in self-regulating, in exercising response-ability.    It’s easy not to fail when the triggering event isn’t triggering, but it’s really hard when the confrontation produces intense emotions of fear or anger.

To put this into practice, this team wrote about where they’ve observed both in themselves and each other; and practiced speaking & listening BTL-style to come clean about where they are on their Builder’s Journey.

To wrap up practice, I asked everyone to pick out one teammate for whom they had a specific word of encouragement and a specific challenge from something they had observed recently.    There were only 2 ground rules.   You don’t have to do this – you can pass.    And, if you don’t want to give someone a green light who has something for you, you can also pass and connect with them afterwards one-on-one.

Nobody passed.   And everybody gave a green light.    And then the magic happened.   Teammates gave and received words of love and truth.   They built each other up, and also challenged each other to do still more.    Engineering challenged sales to not interrupt them and let them finish their sentences.   Sales challenged engineering to stop reacting with “why not” and start asking “how can we?”   The leader heard to resist his impulse to grab the reigns and start trusting the team more.

This team has decided to make the time to practice together one good hour each week.  In doing so, they are giving each other permission for their lights to shine.

How about your team?  If you aren’t practicing like this together, you can be sure failure is hidden in the dark.


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