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  • Writer's pictureMegan Robinson

Success is More Than Just Avoiding Failure

We often hear about a fear of failure. It's a common theme in motivational speeches, self-help books, and leadership seminars. But how much do you talk about success? There's a surprising phenomenon happening you may not have noticed before:

We always have a vision for failure, but rarely do we have a vision for success. 

However, just about everyone can clearly tell you what they don't want. Failure can be terrifying. We know exactly what it looks like to fail – not meeting targets, losing clients, damaging relationships. These fears can haunt us, keeping us up at night. Have you heard the statistic that it takes seven compliments to overcome one negative comment? I believe that we are so fixated on failure that it can overshadow our ability to understand what success looks like. 

We're so busy avoiding what we don't want that we rarely pause to consider what we actually do want. We're driving along, constantly worried about avoiding the potholes without knowing the destination we're trying to reach. Plus, when we are so focused on preventing failure, we miss out on innovative opportunities and growth.

Most of us don't seem to know what we want – or at least we find it hard to articulate. What do you want out of life? What do you want out of your job? Where do you actually see yourself in five years? 

The good thing is, once we do pause, we might find the bones for our vision of success already in our subconscious. Think about the last time you were disappointed. Just the fact that you were disappointed shows that you did have an expectation; you just didn't define it well. You had a vision for success but missed a step in articulating it. 

Flipping the script

Our entire professional outlook can change when we shift our focus from avoiding adverse outcomes to identifying positive ones. It may sound intimidating, especially when you have trouble answering questions about what you want. However, articulating your vision of success is a skill that gets better with coaching and practice.

Focusing on defining success doesn't mean we are throwing caution to the wind or ignoring potential risks. We can find that balance – acknowledging the dangers but not allowing them to dictate our decisions.

To begin to make this shift from defense to offense, we can look at the difference between having a vision for success and setting goals. 

Visions vs. Goals

While goals are finite, a vision is broader and more encompassing. For instance, increasing revenue is a goal, but what does that mean for your organization in the bigger picture? How does it affect how you manage your team or make decisions? "Increasing revenue" is not a vision of success. A vision helps you see beyond the immediate tasks and understand the more significant impact.

Setting SMART goals is essential; most of us have all learned that by now (and if you haven't, please schedule a call with us pronto), but your goals need to ladder up to your larger vision. Without this alignment, goals can feel empty and unsatisfying. Your goals become more meaningful and exciting when they are steps towards a broader vision.

A common misconception is that vision-setting is reserved for senior executives. Everyone below the C-suite may think they don't need to participate, but they're mistaken! Every team member, especially mid-level managers, should cultivate their vision of success. When everyone understands what they are working towards (and not just what they are avoiding), you're rewarded with a more motivated and cohesive team. 

If you feel caught in this cycle of failure avoidance and want guidance in setting visions, let's talk! Schedule a call with us to develop your skills for articulating what success looks like for your project, your team, and your career.  


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