Jim Harshaw on How to Achieve More Success Through Failure


Jim Harshaw believes failure, struggle and setbacks are not only an inevitable part of life but a necessary step on the path to success. Jim Harshaw has learned many life lessons on the wrestling mat. Having been a Division I All American and won three ACC Championships for the University of Virginia, trained at the Olympic Training Center and competed overseas for Team USA he has experienced significant triumph and devastating defeat. He relates those powerful lessons of failure, struggle and setback to empower his audiences to overcome their own challenges and achieve success despite their inevitable failures.

Fear and Failure

If you’re sensitive to harsh words, you may want to cover your eyes. Yeah, it’s a family show, but we’re going to talk about two “F” words. Ready? Here they come: Fear and Failure. Whew! That’s out of the way.

Success is Built on Failure

Jim Harshaw built his success on failures. As a matter of fact, he says each of his successes was built on failure. Early on, his failures, along with his successes, on the wrestling mat, gave him the foundation for the rest of his life. (He even goes on to say that Venture Capitalists in Silicon Valley, CA want to see someone with some type of failure in their background before backing someone.) That said, the life of a successful person is a grind and it’s full of failure.

It’s all about our Mentality when it comes to Failure

So many times, we sabotage our goals and dreams because we cripple ourselves with fear (the first “F” word). We’re afraid of failing (oops, the second “F” word), embarrassment, loss of respect, you name it. Maybe we don’t think successful people fail. Maybe we firmly believe that those who “make it” are just lucky and don’t struggle. Stop it. This is negative thinking. Actually, it’s the successful people who DO fail.

Successful People View Failure Differently

Not only do successful people know that failure will eventually lead to success, they surround themselves with what Jim calls an “environment of excellence.” This would be the people who support and push you forward, give you a confidence check when you need it (yes, we’ve heard this before from so many of our GDP guests!). It’s these people who will be there even when you do fail, so they can share your joy when you succeed.

The Proper Mindset

When this mindset is engrained in your own life, it is only natural that it should carry over to others-particularly, your children. Children have an incredible, innate ability to bounce back from failure early on: they fall down as toddlers trying to walk, get back up and try again. Somehow, though, this ability seems to falter as they grow in school, in sports, and anything else that takes risk. But if you, the parent, the guide, demonstrate through your own recovery from failure, that it is ok and even necessary to fail, your children will follow your lead. What better gift could we give our children than to learn that a great secret to success is mastering how to fail? See? The two “F” words aren’t that bad. When we learn that fearing failure isn’t necessary, and approach failure in a positive way, we are more apt to succeed.

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