So, how would you consider your relationship with ‘failure’?
Is it one of embarrassment and shame? To be avoided at all costs or is it something far more positive than that?
You might recall that as a young child you were indiscriminate in your failings. In fact, you were more than likely positively enthusiastic about them!
So, what the hell happened to our relationship with failure as we grew up?
Well, parental, sibling and peer relationships of course influence our negative attitude towards failure and our associated sense of self-worth. Oftentimes we are told that we are less capable; less valuable; less loved whenever we don’t succeed.
Our educational system is based upon academic success. Failure here too is viewed as negative and answers to problems presented as simply right or wrong. Yet we know that in the real world it is quite different and far more complex than this.
Many of our workplace settings are also risk adverse. While this is gradually changing, many organisational cultures remain conservative and judgemental in terms of risk vs reward and this in turn influences employee mindset and behaviour.
So, what exactly did we lose along the way in terms of our positive attitude towards failure?
As children, you might recall that our approach to learning and the inherent associated risk was one of absolute curiosity.
Our failures were viewed in non-judgemental ways and weren’t necessary influenced by ego.
Our relationship with the process was one of absolute fascination. We instinctively knew as children that if we got the process right that the desired outcome is inevitable! This is something we have lost along the way as we have gotten older. As adults we instead demand outcomes and do our utmost to ignore the importance of the process.
As children, we practiced frequently, adapted and learned through our failures how to succeed. We then went on to repeatedly succeed again and again.
If you have a negative relationship with failure at the moment, it is important to remember that experimentation keeps all of us honest. It allows us to give ourselves permission to fail and learn; to remain curious and to work on the edge of our own capabilities. This is one lesson that our childhood has taught us only for many of us to have forgotten.
So, rediscover your childlike mindset. Stay curious and non-judgemental. Focus on the process and not the outcome.
Give yourself permission to fail safe in the knowledge that it is here that we grow, develop and find true satisfaction.
Joe McDonald, Founder of create10 is a professional coach and trainer working with individuals, teams & organisations in enhancing performance. If you are curious and want to fulfil your potential, than email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.create10.ie for further details.