Fail Away, Fail Better

I  have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work."  ~ Thomas Edison

Failure is both inevitable and necessary for greater achievement.

Rare if not outright mythical would be the Hollywood star who never failed an audition, the athlete who never lost a contest, or the entrepreneur whose ventures always make money. 

Unfortunately we don’t always keep this in mind as we negotiate our career and life.

The story we tell ourselves about failure determines whether we use it as a stepping stone to success or a millstone to keep us operating below our potential and stuck in self-defeating procrastination.

What’s your self talk around failure? Do you tell yourself it's OK and move on or do you beat yourself up with dis-empowering mental cudgels, taking it too much to heart and telling yourself you're not good enough?

Somewhere along the line, most of us were conditioned to see failure or mistakes as bad; things that we get judged for and which are to be avoided or even something to be ashamed of. Little wonder that when we believe we have failed or made a mistake, we often respond negatively; sometimes we avoid the pain by not acknowledging it in the first place

In reality, mistakes and failures are just things that we do, or results that happen and we decide what these mean. If you see mistakes as bad and to be avoided, you will be unlikely to try new things very often, but if you can see failure as part of a process and as necessary feedback to help you improve, then new possibilities open up.

Businesses that have an open, curious and innovative culture encourage their people to try, fail, learn and try again. They know this is more likely to lead to success, and to their employees growing as individuals with more job and career satisfaction as a result. The leaders set the tone, showing a willingness to make, acknowledge and learn from mistakes. Contrast this with a culture where failure is viewed as weakness and you will likely find excuses, blame and fear.

So embrace failure! Take the judgement out of it and focus on doing your best with what you have in the areas within your control. If it doesn’t work after that, then you take what lessons you can and move on, knowing you have done your best. Do this enough times and you can condition yourself to draw strength and confidence from failure instead of being immobilised or fearful because of it.