I'm a golfer. (Please don't hold that against me.) Just recently professional golfer Adam Scott won the Masters golf tournament after a crushing, disheartening defeat in another big golf tournament, the British Open. On the PGA Tour (and other tours similar to it) 150 golfers play every week and 149 lose. Tough odds, don't you think? But the interesting thing is—the guys who lose most often eventually win—and they end up winning more often too.
Ironically losing is the fastest way to winning.
The chairman and founder of IBM once said:
To be successful you have to double your failure rate.
Sounds crazy, no? But it's true. When you are failing regularly, you are learning how not to fail. Like Thomas Edison's famous quip about not having failed at inventing a light bulb but knowing 10,000 ways not to make one. And conversely not failing enough means you're not pushing yourself hard enough, you're not risking enough. You're actually losing.
Back to Adam Scott. He had many difficult losses that he endured before he broke through with his big win. But each "loss" was really a victory of sorts, because with each loss he gained information and confidence about how to win.
As the habit of not losing sets in, most people find ways to avoid risking failure. This from The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence by Dr. Robert Anthony.
In order to function you created a comfort zone whereby you avoided the unpleasant and established a routine you could tolerate. Unfortunately, your comfort zone shut off all the unlimited possibilities which existed outside it.
He continues in the next paragraph:
If you are to break out of the comfort zone you created, you must make friends with failure. When you decide to give up your need for approval, it won't matter how many mistakes you make as long as you reach your ultimate goal.
So don't think, 'Boy, I'm on a nice long stretch of blue sky here. Life's been pretty predictable and safe.' No, think instead, 'If I'm not failing regularly, I'm plateauing. I'm not risking enough. I need to take more chances. Break out of my comfort zone and risk more. Fail more.'
And remember that it takes a big person to fail. Most people's egos are too fragile to deal with failure on a regular basis. But also remember—failure leads to success, and especially after you've failed for a while, that success is oh so very sweet.