How to Make Friends with Failure
The fear of failure is a common theme I see with many coaching clients. It’s of course painful to fail and so we resist it at all costs. But facing failure and even learning to tolerate it, reduces its impact and allows us to move forward with our lives.
Ironically, I’ve actually been failing to write this blog post for about a week now, but while it’s been frustrating that the page stayed stubbornly blank, the reality is, I have been thinking about what to write, so it’s all been part of the process. It even gave me the topic! As Boyd Varty, the author of The Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life says, “The road of not here, is also the road to here”. Not finding what you want is just a stage on the journey to finding it.
They say the antidote to failure is persistence. And while failure definitely hurts, if we can extract some learning out of it, even if it is a single new insight about ourselves or the thing we’ve been trying to accomplish, the effort is never wasted. Like Thomas Edison and his efforts to create the light bulb. He didn’t fail, he just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.
Perspective is also hugely important. When we’re stuck in a particular perspective, for example ‘this is just too hard’, then it probably is. However, if we can shift our perspective to another, more empowering one such as ‘I am practicing how to be better at this’, then we are giving ourselves a break – and increasing the odds that we will get it done. Research shows that when we perceive ourselves as failing, our goal appears harder than it is.
Another way to take the sting out of failure is to write down a list of say 10 things that have gone well recently. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant, from getting a meal on the table to meeting that deadline at work – it helps to reinforce the fact that every day we are experiencing small successes all the time that we just don’t give ourselves credit for.
So next time you start giving yourself a hard time about falling short, remember to log it as just another F.A.I.L – First Attempt In Learning and keep going.
What did you learn from your last failure? Share it below…