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Why The Word "Failure" Is Not In My Vocabulary

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A few weeks ago, I was honored to be 1 of 3 women speakers at the inaugural WIN Event (Women in Netsuite Event) at the Toronto office. NetSuite WIN was founded with the focus on advancing the professional development of women at NetSuite through recruitment, sponsorship, networking, education, and advocacy.


Each speaker was asked to share their unique story, life experiences, background, career path, and a message that the employees can take away that will help improve their lives either at home, at work or both.

After our speeches, there was a panel discussion. There was one particular question that I'd like to discuss because this question is relevant to every single person.

Question: "What's the one thing that will help a person overcome their failures."
My Answer
: "The word failure is not part of my vocabulary. Here are 4 reasons why":

1. The opposite of "success" is NOT failure. If you don't succeed -- you have GAINED a learning opportunity.

For example, one of my first jobs was in financial technology sales. I did not land the sale with a large potential client that I was hoping to. But I never once thought, "oh no, I'm a failure and doomed."

Instead, I asked myself many questions so I could learn -- why did my potential client go with my competitor instead, what were their reasons, what could I have done differently, what is a new approach that might help me gain better traction for next time.

2. Using the word "failure" has mentally, physically and emotionally debilitating effects -- it is NOT productive.

Think of the last time you tried something but did not achieve your definition of success. Did you let yourself think you are a failure? What good did that do? Did you feel drained and lethargic or happy and motivated? Chances are, this one mere thought of being a failure led to sadness, more negative emotions and a spiral downwards. Let's avoid the unproductive way of thinking.

3. If we had a 100 per cent success rate everything we did -- life would be pretty boring. When we don't succeed in the way we initially thought, we are forced to find creative solutions, push boundaries, try new alternatives, experiment and learn how capable we really are! That is exciting!

For example, it was stroke awareness week (Mar 14-19) and I wanted to be on one of the daily news TV programs so that I could help raise awareness of the importance of brain research and funding. I reached out to TV stations, producers, writers, television hosts - I either got a rejection or no response at all.

Time was of the essence since I only had this one week for stroke awareness so I thought, newspapers also have a large audience! Let's try that. So I created a "pitch" and sent it to many different newspapers. I was shocked -- it worked and my story was published. The thought that I was a "failure" with TV stations did not enter my mind.

4. Learning opportunities allow us to understand ourselves and others in ways we would not imagine and ultimately gain confidence.

For example, many years ago, I decided to sign up for my 1st half marathon with a charity - I had to fundraise a large amount in order to participate. If you don't raise the funds, you have to pay from your own pocket (which I was not able to do).

With a few weeks left to go, I was getting a bit worried -- I still had quite a bit more money to raise. At the same time, I was on a huge project at work where each member of the sales force nationwide had specific accounts to target and close.

I knew that the faster this was done, the happier management would be - so I made a little proposition to my boss -- if I ensure I hit my targets ahead of schedule, will you sponsor my charity. I was able to achieve my targets ahead of schedule, management was pleased and I raised my goal for the charity.

In the process, I learned more about my team and management by putting myself in their shoes and finding a solution that appealed to them. I also increased my self-confidence because I was able to tackle two challenges in a way I would have never thought of before. I did not know that I was capable of working that quickly and able to achieve the result that I was hoping for.

So next time things don't go in the exact way you had planned, EMBRACE this as your next exciting learning opportunity!