Are You Failing Enough to Succeed

by Doris Helge, Ph.D. © 2009


What happens when you enthusiastically pursue a goal even though you’ve never proven you can succeed in that arena . . . and you refuse to label yourself a failure when you don’t immediately achieve your goal?

You have a rich history of doing this. In fact, this pattern was responsible for one of your greatest successes: You ignored Physics 101 and defied the force of gravity.

When you were a small child learning to walk, you fell over and over again. Even though you were often frustrated, you didn’t label yourself “a failure.” You didn’t feel worthless. Each new attempt to amble around was a hopeful, determined fresh start.

Children learning to walk don’t waste energy judging their performance as inadequate. They focus on what they want. They master many new skills quickly because they see, smell, hear, and taste the benefits of success.

Instead of feeling inadequate, babies concentrate, using all of their senses. “I want to be held. I want to grab that cookie that smells like it will taste yummy. I want to see people smile at me and hear them coo. There’s something interesting in the next room and I’ll do what it takes to get there.”

How about you? Do you really understand that one of the greatest secrets of success is utterly simple?  —  Stand up more often than you fall down.


Below is an exercise my clients love when they’re discouraged or afraid to take a healthy risk. My team and I also field-tested this exercise during the National Happiness at Work Studies that led to writing the book, “Joy on the Job.”

I coach with your brain in mind. I’ve carefully designed exercises like this multisensory activity to enrich stimulation to several areas of your brain that will help you change in positive ways. This helps you enjoy creatively confronting your challenges. Since I’m also helping you link your thinking brain with your emotional brain, exercises like this  help you embrace, rather than fear, new experiences. We can talk later about why a multisensory approach is so important to your achievement. For now, just remember the previous example of how the most rapid human achievers (babies) progress.


  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for at least 10 minutes. Sit quietly and breathe deeply.
  • Focus on a healthy risk you’ve wanted to take but haven’t because you fear the possibility of failure. Note: Intelligent risks are not impulsive. Although the potential outcome is uncertain, you have previously considered the foreseeable consequences of your actions.
  • Close your eyes and imagine what life would be like if you did fail. Write a one-sentence description of how you would feel. If you weren’t successful, would you gain feedback that would allow you to improve your method or go another direction?Complete the following sentence stem. “If I was not afraid of failure, I’d _______________.”

Close your eyes again. Imagine possible benefits of meeting your goal. Talk out loud, using rich multisensory language that describes what it would be like to achieve your desire. Speak in the present tense. Example: “I feel relieved because I’m now comfortable sharing my opinions in a tactful way. I see a new sparkle in my eyes when I look in the mirror. I hear myself breathing deep, calm breaths. When I hold my favorite pen or smell freshly perked coffee, I remember how satisfying it feels to accomplish an objective. Each time I take a bite out of a delicious piece of food, I savor the sweet memory of the taste of success.”

Pause a few moments to cherish the vivid sensations of achieving your goal.

Now imagine how it will feel if you do nothing. What will your life be like if you just continue to experience what dissatisfies you?

Decide if you have more to gain by clinging to your “familiar zone” and not attempting to achieve your dreams than by taking a healthy risk.


Avoiding risks is so risky that it’s a reliable recipe for failure and unhappiness. Since only a hen lays down on the job and gets positive results, take your next steps now.

  • Write down the next healthy risk you’re going to take.
  • When will you take your next step forward?
  • How is this willingness to bet on yourself evidence that you trust the process of your life?

Post your note where you’ll see it often. After two days, send me an email letting me know about your progress.


Asking for help when you feel stuck is a sign of high self-esteem. Would you like to work with a coach who helps you use sound science to overcome the blocks to your happiness and success? Contact me for a FREE laser coaching session. Discover how quickly you can move into the fast lane and achieve your dreams. Email: today.

Visit and claim your FREE ebooks & audios, “Secrets of Happiness at Work,” “Get the Respect & Appreciation You Deserve Now,” and “The 10 Habits of Confident Entrepreneurs.” Doris Helge, Ph.D., “The Joy Coach” is author of “Joy on the Job” and “Transforming Pain Into Power.” Discover more at

© 2009. Permission to reprint this article is granted if the article is in tact, with proper credit given. All reprints must state, “Reprinted with permission by Doris Helge, Ph.D. Originally published in “Joy on the Job” & © 2009.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave A Reply (15 comments so far)


  1. Doris-

    As usual your multi-sensory “brain” coaching is so on target. Please record these exercises on a CD/down-loadable mp3 and start selling them!! The effect is so much better when I listen to your calming voice while I focus on touch-stoning the learning!

    • Doris
      8 years ago

      Thanks, Jude. What a wonderful idea. Let’s talk about doing this. I love new ways to help people liberate themselves from the perception of struggle. It is SO time for this planet to enjoy new points of view. Yippee! I’ll contact you by email about the specifics of how we can do this in a beautiful win-win partnership.

  2. I love this!

    “Children learning to walk don’t waste energy judging their performance as inadequate. They focus on what they want. They master many new skills quickly because they see, smell, hear, and taste the benefits of success.”

    I like how you pointed out that babies don’t “suffer setback” the way we do. They just get back up and push towards what they want.

    Oh, to be childlike in that regard! I think I’m gonna go play.

    • Doris
      8 years ago

      Hi Melody,

      What a lovely comment, showing your beautiful playful spirit. People like you add beauty and joy to this planet.

      Thanks for the extra inspiration!

  3. Rebbekah White
    8 years ago

    Thank you Doris you are always an inspiration to me! You have helped me in so many ways in the few years I have come to know you!

    I would highly recommend anyone who is looking for a coach to go to you, I know you have made a HUGE difference in my life!

    • Doris
      8 years ago

      Hi Bekah,

      You inspire many, many people yourself in your daily life and through the Heal Yourself Talk Radio Show. Thanks for your wonderful comments. Let’s keep having fun traveling this amazing journey we call “life.”

      With love and joy,


  4. Renee Barnow
    8 years ago

    What a delicious read. Thanks so much for reminding me of the delights of childhood and how easy it is to capture delights in the moment.
    I keep posted in my office the theme/motto of a former TV show, The Magic School Bus:
    Get Messy. Take Chances. Make Mistakes

    • Doris
      8 years ago

      Renee, I love your motto. What will the world be like when more of us joyfully make more mistakes and just KNOW everything and everyone is teaching us. Thanks again for your comment.

  5. Dave Meyer
    8 years ago

    I love the analogy of children. Isn’t it funny that when we are small we are convinced that we can do anything… and we do. But at some point in time we learn (or are taught) that we might fail… that things may not go according to plan …. and that we can’t do anything.

    My question is “why”? How much of our thoughts about us not being able to do things prohibit us from doing things that we would otherwise do?

    Maybe we need more training in how to handle success and less in how to handle failure?

    • Doris
      8 years ago

      Dave, you are so right on. I sense you’re aware that fear of success is greater for most people than fear of failure, even though this is usually unconscious. We often don’t like to change our self-image from “I’m not good enough” to “I’m capable and I can learn, grow, and develop in any way I want to. In fact, I can be anything I want to be” and, of course the next stage is challenging for most of us, “It’s time to take action to become who I say I want to be.” Thanks so much for your enlightening comments.

  6. John Agno
    8 years ago

    How many of us have told a child, “Great Mistake!”?

    Since we all learn from our failures, postively acknowledging mistakes is a great way to encourage people to become risk takers and thus future leaders.

    • Doris
      8 years ago

      John, thanks so much for your comment. I once consulted with a company that valued mistakes so much (knowing they lead to great discoveries) that they developed and celebrated employee bloopers. You are so right on about how essential “mistakes” are.

  7. Tammy
    8 years ago

    Oh this is really great. I was in that same situation last year. I really failed at my goals on what I wanted to do and give up. But then my sister and my best friend made me realize not to give up and just surround yourself by people who are positive in their thinking and will help you towards your goals.

    • Doris
      8 years ago


      Thanks for your comment . . . so right-on. Sure makes you a great role model for others who feel stuck, too!

  8. rernotagoff
    6 years ago

Conquer Your Inner Critic

Are you ready to give your inner critic a new job description?

Click here to learn how to Conquer Your Inner Critic today!

Transform Pain Into Power

Discover proven, practical strategies that have worked for tens of thousands!

Click here to learn how to transform your pain into power today!

Joy On The Job

You deserve happiness at work!

Click here to discover the secrets of happiness when you're working, no matter how you earn a living!


110-page illustrated ebook and SIX mp3s!

Click here to discover more & get your sample chapters & audio!

Follow Doris

Coach Cafe Radio

What’s Coaching?