I hate the feeling of failure. I hate being wrong, feeling not good enough and not living up to my expectations of myself.
Failure may feel so horrible because we all have a huge need to be right, to be perfect and to be admired. It’s been imprinted on us since birth. Being wrong and making mistakes at home, school, university and work, is seen as ….. well, as failure! When we fail, we are often embarrassed and may even try to hide it. No wonder we feel failure is bad and something to be avoided.
But should it be so? Failure happens all the time. Its the human part of our existence. It turns out that feeling bad about failure is not particularly useful. That’s because it’s only by failing and getting things wrong, that we really learn and develop.
I clearly remember failing mathematics the first time I wrote my university entrance examinations many years ago. I felt deeply humiliated that I failed and so many of my friends had passed. However I needed to learn to be more systematic in my approach to the subject, to be more patient with myself and not give up too easily. Applying those lessons helped me later pass the subject, and have been critical in my personal growth as an adult.
We don’t learn and develop during the good and easy times in our lives. We learn by bumping our heads; by seeing our decisions turn out for the worst; by taking a position and then finding it’s flawed. That’s the starting point for real learning and personal development.
It does you no good to look in the rear-view mirror and judge your mistakes and failure harshly. Failure is only something to be regretted if we don’t admit to the fault and if we blame others. Then learning from failure is almost impossible, and the result is we often end up failing again…. and again. That should be the only time failure is shameful!
We need to have the courage to openly acknowledge our failures. Only once we admit to having made a mistake and failed, can we start to recover and bounce back. That’s resilience in action.
What would happen if we changed our view of failure from being a really bad experience which should be avoided at all costs, to it being a learning opportunity? Would our negative feelings about being a “failure” change? And importantly, would we be less likely to make the same mistake again?
The answer is a resounding “yes”! Fortunately, you can change your attitude to failure. The trick is to reframe the failure, rather than beating yourself up. Here are three simple yet profound questions to ask yourself to reframe the failure:
1. What can I learn from this?
2. What positive outcome could arise from this?
3. If the outcome did not matter, but only the learning did, what would I do?
People who never make mistakes, never learn. To grow and develop, you need to make mistakes. Lots of them. You need failure! Learning from your failure will accelerate your development into becoming all that you are able to be.
So make lots of decisions; take action; be decisive and dynamic. Accept making mistakes and failure as part of learning. The challenge is not to never make mistakes, it rather to learn from them and not make them again. So live your life with gusto and zest, recovering and bouncing back from life’s inevitable setbacks and disappointments. That’s real resilience!