Act As Though You Cannot Fail, and You Will Be Surprised by How Often You Succeed

Adapted from The Art of Work: How to Make Work, Work For You!

Every single step you take, every list you make, must be supported by your confidence in your ability to succeed.

I grew up with a strong identity as part of a group that was my family and my local community, and I’ve been diligent to build myself as an individual. One of the ways I have accomplished my goals is by acting as though failure is never an option for me. This means that I’ve worked very hard to evaluate myself with an open mind as I’ve developed myself. I know that along with a concrete sense of self and a firm individual identity comes the power of choice. This does not require me to give up my sense of community, or the warmth and security I enjoy as a family member. What has been necessary for me to enjoy my power of choice is to abandon any thinking that allows my choices to be determined outside of myself.

Acting as though you cannot fail dynamically empowers you to make better contributions to all your efforts and relationships than you could otherwise. Being the weakest link in any group has never appealed to me, and I do not believe that working to be the strongest link in the chain is in opposition to the spirit of teaming or family. I encourage you to think carefully on where your own convictions lie about areas of your work and your life that you seek to improve.

My first rule for myself is “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.” To act as though you cannot fail, you must act from motivations and beliefs that are truly your own.

People often ask me, “How did you get so successful?” Then, they look at me befuddled when I give them my honest answer, “I dream about it! Every night! I never see failure in my dreams.” Even when it appears that the odds are stacked against me, I maintain confidence in my ability to succeed. My track record proves that I am correct to believe so. One expression that articulates how I look at situations of this nature is the commonly used phrase: ‘seeing the glass as either half-empty or half-full.’ Another, which I cannot repeat often enough is, “Jobs don’t have futures; people do!” I don’t always know the details of every situation I’m faced with, but I always act believing that I will succeed. You are not being a gambler when you take calculated, educated risks in your work, if you’ve done your best to prepare and bring your best to the situation. The odds are highly in your favor that you will succeed.

Remember this one thing, too. There is a big difference between acting earnestly and acting with bravado. You must be prepared to weed out the things that don’t work in your life, and to plant and water, in their place, the things that need to grow. From day to day, you will be better at some more than others. While you may not be aware of, or fully understand, every circumstance you encounter, you have subconsciously influenced those circumstances. The seeds in the garden that awaits you have been planted long before you see what will sprout. Still, it was you who planted them. The energy and spirit with which you approach your life from this day forward affects your state of mind both consciously and subconsciously. This is an amazingly powerful piece of knowledge for you to work with. No one ever really wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe, they just laid down to rest with the wrong kind of head.

The power of positive thought is more than just the ability to put on your good game face. You truly must re-orient the direction and focus of your thoughts. The direction you take them in will invariably guide your decisions and actions. In any garden, growth comes as the result of the concerted efforts of many factors: the land, timing, weather, seeds chosen for planting, and the planter’s toil. Just like a garden, any place you find yourself will have been affected by many things. Unlike a garden, you are in charge of most of these things. Your mind is the place from which greatness can bloom. Plant the seeds of your choosing–positive or negative. Your mind is more fertile than any soil. While there may come things beyond your control, they cannot alter what you have already firmly planted, planned and nurtured. Let that be your success. If you really commit, you will achieve a progressively enjoyable work and life experience.

Janice Bryant Howroyd

Businesswoman, entrepreneur, educator, ambassador, author, mentor and Presidential Special Appointee, Janice Bryant Howroyd is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Act •1 Group, a global leader providing customized cutting edge solutions in the human resources industry.