When you’re ready to take the next step in your life, whether that means starting a new business or applying for college, one force will block your path like a brick wall: fear. It becomes nearly impossible to take a risk when the negative consequences of that choice swirl in your head: financial ruin, humiliation, or the sting of failure. If you ask Mat Pelletier, what you fear keeps you from seeing is that failure is actually the first step toward achievement.
Mat wrote Embracing Failure: Harness the Power of Fear in Life and Business to help readers shake off the paralyzing effects of fear and move toward what they want most. He equips them with the tools needed to dig up seeds of doubt and plant seeds of confidence, plus a framework to set attainable goals and track their progress. Mat wrote the book out of his own experience with failure, and by sharing his ideas, he hopes to transform how we view this concept.
I sat down with Mat recently to see what inspired him to write the book, his favorite actionable idea from Embracing Failure, and how he applies that idea to his life and work.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
The decision to write the book was made when I felt the solutions and tools that are represented within the content need to be shared with everyone, not just a select audience.
The exact moment was a cumulative gathering of information throughout my life. I have been on my own since I was 14 years old and have a very specific perspective on life and how to achieve goals. This content cannot be found in a textbook.
When the stories and experiences got to critical mass, it became the book.
What’s your favorite actionable idea in the book?
Doing nothing in any case is your worst possible decision. Procrastination is a disease of sorts. Making decisions and taking risks are required. They can be perceived as scary. The more chances you take in life the easier it will get. Failures along the way are to be expected.
Ask yourself: why should I not take this chance? Failures are a quick route to discover what does not work so you can try a different path quickly. It’s a process of elimination. I’m actually fearful of doing nothing because I know nothing results in nothing. Zero always equals zero.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
I apply this mindset in all of my business dealings and influence everyone I contact to embrace this thinking. I do not advocate reckless decision-making. I advocate taking real steps in the direction of your target goals. It does not matter if it’s a business opportunity or applying for a new position. Setbacks are to be expected. The greatest resistance is to be expected right before your greatest breakthrough! The most difficult step is the first one. Take it.
One notable situation occurs weekly in my business. My companies compete for many projects. We fail to secure the contracts around 80–85% of the time. That would make most people very discouraged. But I know it will turn in our favor shortly. The resistance we get will make us better and more competitive in the future. When we do succeed, we’re confident that our determination has got us to where we belong. The main concept is if you continually work to improve and never quit, it is reasonable to say you will succeed. The reason most new startups fail is because when they meet failure, they associate that with the fact that they are not qualified and should just give up, so they do. My book debunks that notion. When you are in the throes of your toughest battles, that’s usually because you’re on the verge of a breakthrough.
For more advice on pushing past failure to achieve success, you can find Embracing Failure: Harness the Power of Fear in Life and Business on Amazon.