Have you ever failed before? Have you ever abandoned your goals and dreams because you couldn’t envision a path that wouldn’t end in defeat and pain? I have, more times than I can count.
My name is Kyle Bringhurst. I have grown my company, Majestic, to more than 6-figures annually before graduating from college and am very excited about the future of the company and my future. But it wasn’t always that way.
When I was a child my parents started arguing a lot. I used to go to my room and plug my ears, so I wouldn’t have to hear them yelling at each other. One time I even went into their room to beg them to stop fighting. Can you imagine having to do that as a child?
Luckily, for a while things got better. When I was 9 my mom had my little sister, and I remember feeling happy and loved. It was during this time that I started realizing I had a love of business and that I might want to have my own someday. I felt like I could do anything. Then I started high school.
Think back to when you were in middle school or high school. Now think about how awkward a time it was for you. I’m sure most of you are laughing to yourself and are extremely grateful for puberty like I am. I am looking at a picture of myself from high school right now and can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous and awkward I was compared to now.
The high school years were awkward and difficult for me. Not because of the school experience, but because of my experience at home. While I am happy to say that I now have a strong relationship with my parents, during high school it was the opposite.
My parents started fighting again. If you have divorced parents, you understand the strain and the discomfort that the fighting causes not only in the home, but in your life personally. I experienced lots of strain. Especially since I was in the most awkward stage of life – high school.
All I can remember about those times is that I went from being super excited about life to just trying to keep the peace at home. I was dealing with my own issues but never got the validation about my life that I craved and needed from home, so I searched for it in other places. A lot of those places were not the best, but at least I felt validated. This became a habit in my life.
While still in high school, my parents got divorced. I expected it and was relieved, but I still found myself feeling empty. By this time, I had the goal and vision of owning my own successful business, but because I had become accustomed to seeking validation and acceptance from others I did not want to open myself up to failure.
Externally I had the goal of being extremely successful in business and knew I had the skills and passion necessary, but internally I was struggling with reconciling that goal with the chance of being seen as a failure and being rejected. Since I put more value on validation and acceptance than having a successful business, I ended up being stagnant for the longest time.
Eventually I got over my fear and forced myself to start my business. But after doing that I became paralyzed by the fear that I didn’t know enough yet, so I tried to learn as much as I could about business. While learning and preparation are important, I was more so using them as an excuse for me to not subject myself to potential failure (I believe we do that a lot as humans. We use “good” things as reasons for not doing the things we know we need to do.).
It has been like that since I officially started Majestic in the summer of 2015. I would take a small “leap” and see progress, and I would sit content with that for a while so that I didn’t have to face the next step. Eventually I would grow impatient and take the next “leap” and have done this over and over. All for fear of failing and destroying what little progress I had made.
A few months ago, I had something happen that changed my life forever. That will be a story for another day, but from it I learned I was spending too much time seeking validation and reciprocity of my feelings, and that I was literally letting fear of letting others down or losing validation run my life. I felt worthless and hopeless, because I had created the personal value that who I was as a person depended on validation from others and what they thought.
During that period, I didn’t think there was a reason to live. Because my self-worth was dependent on others validating me, and I felt like I had nobody validating me, I literally felt like I had nothing of value to give. If you have ever experienced these feelings, you understand exactly what I am talking about. It is the worst feeling in the world. I thought that it would be better to feel nothing at all than to feel like that.
Side note: If you currently have any of these feelings, please reach out to a therapist or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That is what saved my life and shifted my paradigm. I am more than happy to talk to you about anything and everything.
After seeing a therapist and finally understanding that the root of my issues was seeking validation, I finally was able to see how wrong I had been my entire life. A whole new world of opportunities was now in front of me, if I kept my focus internal instead of external. It was through working with my therapist that I was able to adjust my personal values and become proactive instead of reactive, both personally and with Majestic.
My whole life I grew up believing that being vulnerable and opening yourself to failure or rejection was, in itself, a failure. Without vulnerability and risk-taking, we are robots. When we are vulnerable we put more value in being happy than we do in avoiding failure. That is why we take that risk. When we aren’t vulnerable we put more value in avoiding failure than we do in experiencing true joy and fulfillment. That kind of life sucks and is miserable because we focus on avoiding the bad rather than searching for the good. I know, because that was my life until the past few months.
I have given into fear and failure so many times that it became a habit in my life. I have been so focused on the external outcomes that it led me to become paralyzed with fear. Focusing on validation, reciprocity of feelings, and results does that to a person. It is only by focusing on being proactive (our efforts) rather than being reactive (focusing on what happens after our efforts – the results) that we can face our fears and failure and still succeed.
Success, for me, is not based on revenue or number of customers. I have goals for those things as well, of course, but for me success is personal. Success is private. Success is quiet. Success is seeing the progress we have made. Success is the mindset with which we accomplish our goals. Success is talking to that cute guy or girl because we want to talk, not because we want to get his or her number. See the difference? The former is effort-based, and the latter is results-based.
By focusing on, and rewarding, effort, we get high results. By focusing on, and rewarding, results, we get low effort. Why is this? Because we, as humans, like to feel like we are in control. We can always control our effort, and we naturally feel good when we have good effort, so we will do more and more. When we focus on results we lose that feeling of control, which is why most people will either delay before attempting the task or will quit before even trying.
I want you to think, for a minute, about a specific goal you have in life. We all have goals that we want to reach. None of us have reached them yet, which is why they are still goals and not achievements. When we make goals, we tend to only focus on our results and we neglect focusing on our efforts. Focus on efforts in your goals, and the results will follow.
One of the best ways to grow and develop that resilience to continue working in the face of failure is to set a goal that deals with efforts, not results. If you are in door-to-door sales do not set a goal to sell 5 accounts in a day. Set a goal to knock on 100 doors. If you are an author do not set a goal to write a best-seller, set a goal to write 500 words a day. If you are trying to be more outgoing do not set a goal to make more friends, set a goal to talk to 5 people.
If you struggle with taking that first step due to fear and failure, focusing on results will only further paralyze you. Focus on, and measure, your efforts. Reward yourself for writing 500 words, no matter how good they are. Pat yourself on the back for talking to 5 people today, no matter how good the conversation is. Congratulate yourself for knocking 100 doors, no matter how many sales you get. Always focus on the positives of doing what you say you’ll do, no matter what the results will be. Effort comes first, then results.
Success is a mindset, and it comes by focusing on efforts instead of results. I promise that if you set goals based on efforts, you will achieve more than if you set goals based on results. You will overcome your fears by focusing on efforts, and you will feel better internally for doing what you said you will instead of beating yourself down for not doing it to avoid failure.