“When we begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks, Vol. 2 …
Failure is not permanent unless we allow it to be. For much of my life, I used to see failure as the outcome that must be avoided at all costs. I felt that if I failed, it meant that I was somehow less of a man–that others would trust me less, that they would see me as a failure, and that they would judge me harshly and avoid me. Of course, this is not at all true: failure is simply trying something and not being successful at it in that specific instance; an outcome that offers us lessons to help us grow, understand, and become stronger, so that at some point in the future, we might succeed.
Fear of failure has the power to control much of our lives–our outlooks, our decisions, our actions. If we are driven by it because we seek to avoid the judgment of others, then we do so at the expense of all, for we deny ourselves the ability to be driven by the much needed wholesome forces in life–love and compassion, purpose and meaning, the desire to learn and to grow, and the desire to help others and to add to the sum of beauty in this world. We essentially hold ourselves back from reaching our full potentials and from living our lives to the fullest, because instead of striving to reach our potential, we are striving to avoid failure. But when we begin to shine the positive light of growth, understanding, and selflessness onto our fear of failure, it becomes a powerful, positive driving force in our lives.
It is important to note that in some instances, however, failure is not an option, like when others are depending on us and we are doing something that we are more than capable of doing, or when we have made promises to others and fail to live up to those promises, or when our failure puts others health, lives, or safety at grave risk.
In truth, some of my biggest failures have turned out to be some of my greatest learning experiences, and I do not regret them a bit. In fact, I have come to recognize the importance that they have played in my life… and are still playing. I would like to think of my relationship with failure as that of a friend who says, “You have tried this and it did not work, and so next time, try something else and try it a bit harder.” This ability to be on open terms with failure allows me to learn from it and grow as a person, and it teaches me ways in which I can help others to deal with their failures in healthy ways. Not to mention that our ability to get along with the failures in our lives directly correlates to our stress, happiness, peace of body and mind, and the serenity within our souls.
Do not be afraid to share with others your some of your recent failures.
Questions to consider:
How do we learn that failure is such a drastic thing?
Why are we so willing to judge ourselves harshly for failing to do something, even if it is something we have never done before and have had no preparation for?
What is your most recent failure? How drastic was it really? Was it life-changing, or just something you did or did not do? If it was life-changing, how might you avoid repeating it?
For further thought:
“You need the ability to fail. I’m amazed at the number of organizations that set up an environment where they do not permit their people to be wrong. You cannot innovate unless you are willing to accept some mistakes.” ~ Charles Knight