I’ve had several consultations recently where there’s been a definite recurring theme. It’s one that often comes up with a lot of Professionals working in London.

I would personally describe the vast majority of my clients as inspirational and successful. These are people who have either had some serious success in their careers or overcome some serious challenges personally to be in a good position in life (at least on the face of it).

I would personally describe the vast majority of my clients as inspirational and successful. These are people who have either had some serious success in their careers or overcome some serious challenges personally to be in a good position in life (at least on the face of it).

However, one thing is becoming clearer by the day. That is how the prospect of things going wrong is holding so many talented people back from pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and making big changes in their lives. Whether it’s changing career, quitting a lucrative but unfulfilling job, starting a new business, ending a dead-end relationship, debating whether to propose to a partner or relocating overseas, so many people want change but get held back.

There can be a multitude of reasons but my focus today is on what “failing” means, or what it means when things go wrong.

The majority of us tie up “success” and “failure” in a specific endeavor or job with our own sense of self-worth. Mess up and you’re a failure as a person; you’re a nobody.

Society, culture, work and family have all played a role in creating a belief that getting things wrong is to be avoided, even if the cost of that avoidance is significant. Often the motives are good. Your family wants to protect you. You’ll likely want to protect your kids or future kids. Other times the motives are less altruistic. Many organisations, in particular large corporates, actively discourage thinking out of the box and turn their employees into a series of drones who have to fit a certain mould to make it up the ladder or even survive. It’s hard to embrace change or take a risk when you’re surrounded by this day in, day out.

Given this, I’d say anyone looking to make a big change but who has held back so far needs to do two things as a starting point:

1) Redefine your parameters of self-worth. What makes you successful? How would you prefer to define your own self-worth? Start with a blank canvas and decide the criteria yourself for what makes you successful, rather than what everyone around you has instilled in you

2) Secondly but obviously related – redefine what failure itself means. Yes you may get something wrong. But if you’re one of the few (the sad truth is that most people are sheep and follow the path that society dictates of them) that’s gone out on a limb and done something different despite no guarantee of success, are you a failure even if it doesn’t work out? Or does failure act as a learning opportunity and indicator of future success?

In the US, failure is often seen a badge of honour. It shows you’ve been in the trenches. It shows experience, it shows that you can work hard and be committed. Most importantly perhaps it shows resilience. It explains why there is such as thriving entrepreneurial culture there. I can’t help but feel that in this country we have far too much of a safety-first approach – both at work and in our personal lives. And ultimately that’s what holds us back from genuine fulfillment and maximising our potential. Self-deprecating British humour is all good. But it’s definitely symptomatic of a deeper malaise about many people’s lives in this country.

I love a challenge though. I love helping people overcome this. The best feeling in the world is seeing people push themselves out of their comfort zones and making big changes that they know are right, but which they wouldn’t have done previously. They then look back with a knowing smile and acknowledgment about how glad they are that they did it.

When you’ve done it, you never regret it. Regardless of how things turn out.

No regrets – that’s what I want for people living a treadmill existence.

Give me a shout to see how I can help you do this so you can take your life to the next level.