You’ve probably said it yourself and didn’t really believe it: the old saying that behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. It’s hard to have much faith in that advice when that cloud is dumping buckets of rain on your parade.
How often does a negative thought spiral into a forthcoming catastrophe? How often does something harmless become a looming upheaval in your mind?
For instance, a dull headache becomes cancer in the brain. A flight to another state turns into the plane crashing. A work interview that ruins your whole life.
These examples of terrible thinking might seem extreme, maybe even silly. But before we know it, a situation we’re concerned about becomes a full-blown worst-case scenario.
Turning the Worst-Case Scenario into a Place of Leverage
Many people deal with stress by living out probable scenes in their heads. This playing of the “what if” game happens because of our natural tendency to fear the worst is going to happen to us.
We think about the bad and picture it as if it were really going to occur. You don’t want to get mired down in this practice because it can impact your success unless you know how to turn it into an asset.
Predicting Failure Can Slow Your Drive
When you predict failing at something, that mental imagery can actually cause you to become overly cautious, it can make your drive or your forward momentum slow down.
This happens because you’re unknowingly bracing yourself for the “what if” to become a reality. Thinking about what could happen is okay every now and then because it can help keep you sharp.
But don’t constantly entertain what could happen to the point that you’re afraid to take a step. You don’t want to let yourself dwell on the “what ifs” because they might not even happen.
And if they do happen, you just have to roll with it. The “what if” scenarios that you create in your head are imaginations brought to visualization by fear. It might be fear of failure or fear of success.
But you don’t want to avoid the possibility that you might end up encountering a setback or even multiple setbacks – because then your progress can become stagnant.
You want to embrace the possibility of learning curves.
Embracing the worst of what could happen actually helps you grow and learn how you can overcome setbacks when they do occur.
And they will happen because setbacks happen to everyone at some point in life. Trial and error is a great teacher. When you experience a setback, it shows you what didn’t work as well as gives you a lesson on how to change it so that it doesn’t happen again in the future.
You’ll be able to see what you’re truly up against when you think about the possibility of an obstacle. Thinking about the possibility of obstruction can give you an edge.
You’ll look at whatever it is that you want to do from all the angles, from all the ways that something can go wrong. This causes you to work harder and become more proficient at whatever it is you want to do.
The critical thing about embracing the possibility of setbacks is that they can open doors to new possibilities that may not have existed before.
You don’t want to dwell on or predict failure because that can make your fear of taking action step a struggle to overcome.
Instead of letting “what if” become the thing that hinders you, teach yourself how to use these scenarios for your own good. You can learn how to create a plan B or C when you imagine what could happen if your plan A doesn’t succeed. So embracing possible setbacks can act as a tool for preparation.
Vulnerability is the First Step to Greatness
When you’re struggling to achieve something that you really want in life, looking at the competition can be a real downer. It’s not fun if you’re doing something like starting a business, and you’re fighting just to gain your first ten clients, while the competition seems to have clients multiplying every few seconds.
Plus, looking at the competition can give you a skewed sense of reality. You do not see the competition at their starting point. You’re seeing them when they’re already halfway through their journey (or more).
Or maybe their startup took off while yours is still struggling. Don’t worry about who’s doing what. There’s still enough room in life for your goals to be reached, too.
Maybe you’re getting a little discouraged because you feel like you just keep screwing up. Every time you turn around, you mess something up. At this point, it can be easy to think that your audience thinks you’re a huge loser.
The truth is actually that an audience often can’t stand people who don’t have flaws.
The ones who seem to lay golden eggs and never struggle with a single thing they set out to do don’t have the ability to connect with an audience the way those who experience setbacks publicly do.
Your audience is made up of imperfect people. They don’t want to see someone who’s seemingly perfect. They don’t feel like they have anything in common with the person who doesn’t have (or at least acts like he doesn’t have) any obstacles standing in the way of his goals.
Instead, they love to look at the underdog – the person who’s struggling to overcome setbacks – the one who keeps on trying to find a way around the obstacles and eventually succeeds.
The reason an audience enjoys seeing flawed people trying, falling and getting back up to try again is that they can relate.
They think you’re no different from them.
You’re doing the best you can to succeed and if you can, then maybe they can, too. They’ll think that maybe their setbacks won’t hold them down, either. Letting your flaws be out in the open makes you more human.
The audience is more likely to pay attention to you over the person who doesn’t show any struggle at all. Your audience wants to be a witness to your failures because it allows them to watch as you figure out how to overcome the issues that arise.
They can see where you once were and now they see you’re making progress. Your audience will root for you. They’ll reach out to you and you’ll be able to build a community much faster (and a more loyal one) over the guy who presents the polished no struggle path to success.
Expect and Prepare for Embarrassment
You might not realize it at the moment, but embarrassment won’t kill you. It just feels that way. Embarrassment is something that’s actually rooted in perfectionism.
You fell short of what it was you hoped to say or do, so your cheeks flush and all sorts of self-defeating thoughts run through your mind. People who are trying to do something in life – like take action steps toward a goal – feel embarrassment when something happens because they fear others will think they’re incapable.
They worry that others’ opinions of them won’t be as good as they once were. The truth is, other people, don’t think about you as often as you might believe they do.
Others don’t focus on something embarrassing happening to you with the same tenacity and the cringing review of the scene as you do. You have to expect that at some point, you’re going to be embarrassed.
It’s not a matter of if, but of when.
If you’re someone who’s giving a speech about a product that you created, but all of a sudden, your mind blanks – or you forget what you needed to say and can’t recover – you can laugh at yourself.
A joke that you can hide your own Easter eggs and still be surprised when you find them. Most people love humor – and if you’re able to laugh, they’ll laugh with you. Or you can redirect the focus from the embarrassment with a simple human connection like you’re tired, so your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders.
This will help your audience connect with you because everyone understands being tired.
If you’re about to give a speech and discover that you’ve left your notes behind or lost them, you can open with something funny like, “Well, my prepared speech was probably boring anyway, so here it is – off the cuff.”
Or turn it into an opportunity where you engage in a direct Q&A with your audience instead of talk “at” them during a speech. You can relax yourself and others by not being afraid to show your human side.
More than one person knows the embarrassment of trailing tissue paper from the bathroom that’s stuck to a shoe out in front of a group of other people. Many people understand forgetting what you were going to say or having a product flop that was supposed to work.
If you’re someone who wants to start a business, you might have a day where something you wanted to showcase flops – and flops in a big way. By expecting embarrassment, you can create alternate endings to what you’re going to do when the embarrassment does happen.
Using Humiliation to Connect With Your Audience
Humiliation happens, and people cringe. They want to leave to get away from the situation or their cheeks flame every time they think about what they said or did. Keep in mind that you are not an island.
Humiliation is a bond that links many people. When something humiliating happens, one of the best things that you can do is to turn it into a discussion. For example, you’re at a large meeting, and you’re supposed to introduce a well-known speaker.
You can’t for the life of you remember his name. That can be humiliating for you and the other person. You can quickly apologize and be honest. Say your mind blanked or use humor.
One of the key things to prevent humiliation from happening is to be prepared. There are many times where you can’t just wing it, and preparation is needed. However, if your initial preparation failed, then you’ll need to call on your backup plan.
You should always plan for what you’re going to default to if there’s a problem.
Having a backup plan can help prevent humiliation in some cases. In others, it can help minimize the embarrassment.
If you’re at an event or in the middle of a video presentation or webinar, and you’re in the middle of speaking, but you forget what you were going to say, you can pause and look at your notecard.
Having a word or two that jogs your memory can often get you back on the right track. Most people know the stories about announcers who read the wrong words from a teleprompter – or announced the wrong winner of a huge beauty contest or Oscar nomination.
If something similar happens to you, even on a smaller scale, then you want to get in front of that humiliation by immediately correcting the mistake and then moving on from there.
You may make a mistake in front of a live audience.
You’ll want to know ahead of time how to react because your audience will become uncomfortable. They’ll feel bad for you, and you want to put them at ease.
If that happens, just explain what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to show your human side. You can quickly turn humiliation into something advantageous by being open about it.
You may make a mistake online that humiliates you, such as mentioning the wrong thing about your business on social media. Just jump in, apologize, correct the hassle and move on.
Tell your audience what you did that brought on the humiliation and then turn that situation or that discussion into something that benefits them. The more you dwell on it and shine a light on it, the more awkward it becomes, so addresses it and go forward.
Embracing and Leveraging Difficulties for Your Benefit
Embarrassment or being humiliated is something that happens to almost everyone. It’s pretty universal. But what’s not universal is how people respond to it.
Some get angry and lash out. Others want to hide away and not face those who witnessed the humiliation. Others decide to embrace the situation fully – and that’s the group that you want to belong to.
But you want to take it a step beyond just embracing the disaster. What you want to do is to leverage the failure for your benefit. This is known as turning lemons into lemonade.
Find the good in the bad – because every experience in life can be used as a stepping stone if you allow it to be. Take all your worst-case scenario moments and create something that’s going to help your audience.
Use the thing that brought you down to help build you right back up. You can bet that if you went through it, others have (or will), too. Turn the mistakes, the embarrassments, and the little and big flops that you make into products.
The list of what you can create is almost endless.
You can do all this with the mindset that what you went through caused you humiliation – so you want to make sure others don’t have to experience that as well.
Share that fact. Talk about what you went through. When your audience looks at what you have to offer, and they know why you’re offering it, they’ll want to buy it because they’ll be able to relate to you, showing your human side.
Anything that you’ve been through can be turned into leverage for your benefit. If you were giving a huge speech and you forgot your lines, then you can create a product that teaches people how to avoid that.
It might be something like an eBook teaching people how they can memorize their speech – or one that teaches them what to do if they do forget their speech. If you’re someone who hit rock bottom financially, you can create products talking about that and how you rebuilt your life.
You can do the same thing if you hit rock bottom in a relationship or if you’re someone who was fired or made a huge, public mistake. Anything can be used as material to help you help others.
If you still carry the false belief that your worst-case scenario will be the downfall of your success, then consider how many famous entrepreneurs succeeded when they experienced their rock bottom moment.
Sometimes, it’s just the spark you need to fire up all cylinders and make great strides toward an unbelievable future filled with nothing but positive outcomes and increased personal satisfaction.