A huge part of our success and overall how we feel about ourselves and our life depends on how we deal with failure. And it's relevant to every person but especially it's relevant to people who stutter because obviously every time we stutter we feel or might feel like a failure.
So, what do we do with that? Let's find out!
First, let's take a look at Michael Jordan. What he says about failure. There's a lot we can learn from him.
"I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan
That's a great paradigm which in the nutshell says, "Step by step, don't be afraid to fail and you'll make your way to the top. Just be open to failure because when we fail we learn, we improve, and we grow."
And that sounds awesome. It is awesome actually, but in most cases we quickly realize that it's not working with stuttering because we fail and we fail and we fail. We try to speak and we stutter. We try to speak and we stutter. And no matter what we're trying to do we end up pretty much in the same area of stuttering.
So we create a certain stuttering paradigm consisting of three big pieces in terms of how we deal with failure.
We want to protect ourselves from the negative experiences so we started avoiding words, phrases, speaking, people, interaction. We're avoiding pretty much everything that can create that negative experience that might feel, or technically feels like failure.
2) "That's just me"
I have long nose, not much hair and I have stuttering. We have our genetics and I wouldn't argue with that. So, we say, "That's just the way I am, it's not my fault, it's not my failure, its stuttering, it's just stuttering. Stuttering fails - not me."
And again, this way we protect ourselves from that feeling of failure which is absolutely natural and healthy, we don't want to beat ourselves up. Absolutely!
Secretly or openly we're trying to improve, to unblock, to get through our speech impediments. So we look for different tricks and stuttering techniques that might help and most of the time when we apply those techniques or tricks to our stuttering speaking pattern it's not quite working so we say, "I tried this, I tried that - it didn't work."
So, the failure again is where? Outside. "It didn't work." The trick, the technique failed, not me.
1) Avoidance, 2) saying "that's just me," and 3) looking for different tricks - these are seemingly very different concepts but they somehow mysteriously twist and blend together and usually we have each of those three pieces to some extent.
But the one common thing is that we push failure outside. There is no room for failure in our paradigm and again that's the natural way to protect ourselves from that feeling of failure. We don't want to feel negative about ourselves.
Now, failure is definitely a burden. It's something unpleasant. Let's take working out. You always stretch yourself and you fail. Every time you go working out you fail because you do one, two, three, ten - failed. So failure has an ability to make us stronger. Failure gives us an ability to grow, to learn, and to change.
But right now we are fed up with failure. The more we stutter the more we stutter. We don't improve that way, we don't change the way we speak that way.
So, how do we get outside of that paradigm? How do we get to a different paradigm where we are free to play with failure, we are free to learn from it, to grow, to become stronger, to change our speaking pattern and to start feeling differently about our speaking?
1) 100% confidence
The first piece of a new paradigm is 100% confidence. 100% confidence that I can say what I want to say in the way I want, the way I like. And we start building our new speaking pattern from scratch, from the very sound, just one sound.
Stuttering means tension and blocks in the airflow. So, we want to relax on that sound and put power to it. We want to feel we enjoy saying it. It's just a seed of confidence but it's 100% confidence.
In Free From Stutter Program we're using the hand stuttering technique synchronising all the speaking processes: putting a bit more power, feeling we're relaxing as we speak, being a bit more expressive. We say a phrase feeling that we are saying it in one breathing out. Feeling the support of our diaphragm and the hand technique.
Then we go to speaking longer pieces and move to more anxiety creating positive speaking experiences in different settings.
We want to put that 100% confidence to our muscle and emotional memory. Not 50%, not 60%, not depending on the circumstances. We want to change the feeling associated with the act of speaking.
The happiest moment for me is when the phrase "It didn't work for me" is getting replaced with "I didn't do it" or "I did do it, I did use my training speech, I did use my hand technique."
When this shift in our language happens that's what makes me truly happy. When a person takes that responsibility, takes that failure in. When a person feels that failure is not outside, it's not the trick failing, it's me failing. That's the sign of real confidence and real ability to do it.
Once that happens I know nothing can stop such person any more. It's in your discretion to go that way. It's just a matter of time. And as Confucius said, "It doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop." You might go faster, you might go slower but eventually you will get there.
3) Don't give up
Now you have a long journey ahead of you building positive speaking experiences because our stuttering speaking pattern is so strong, it's just huge with deep roots. We can't replace it in one day. All we can do is start putting positive speaking experiences on the other side of the scales to outweigh our negative muscle memory, emotional memory especially in those fixed environments where we had negative speaking experiences time after time.
So, the third piece of the paradigm is just not giving up going step by step, playing with failure but also feeling that again it's your discretion, it's your power, it's your ability that you have to get to those positive speaking experiences. And now once you feel that 100% confidence, once you've taken the responsibility, failure is here, you're playing with it. You're confident enough to play with it.
Now you will have for sure your 9,000 shots that you will miss, 300 games that you will lose, and 26 unsuccessful game-winning shots. And you will fail and fail over and over again and that is why you will succeed with changing the way you speak, with changing the way you feel about your speaking.
That is why you will succeed. And not because of a trick or stuttering technique. Now it's not me or anybody or anything else, now it's YOU.
What do you think about stuttering and failure? How do you feel when you stutter? Is there room for failure in your paradigm? Please leave a comment, I'd love to know!