People are often very hard on themselves and are quick to judge something they do as a failure.
Worse than that, they apply that same label to themselves.
"I tried that and it didn't work. It failed. I'm a failure."
This is a bit of a bugbear for me. It's such an inconsistent and illogical thing to do.
Firstly, just because you experience 'failure' it doesn't mean that you are one. You don't need to gain ownership of a label that you really have no right to possess.
We don't do it the other way round, claiming a label of brilliance when we do something that others think is completely amazing.
We actually do the opposite. We brush off the compliments with "Oh, it was nothing really."
We might allow ourselves a glimmer of inner joy or even a jovial "Thanks, I enjoyed doing it," but you never ever say "Yep, that's right, I'm a bona fide genius."
Too often we are happy to take on the label of failure. But why?
Just because of some actions we took.
Actions that are already in the past by the way.
How long do you need to leave them before they become history?
- 5 years?
- 5 months?
- 5 days?
- 5 minutes?
Why not skip the lengthy delay options and choose five minutes?
Secondly, 'failure' is subjective. It's your perspective that matters.
How you view failure can make a huge difference to your emotional wellbeing and the long term results you would like to achieve.
People too often view failure as the end of the road. A closed door. A final nail in the coffin. This is very unhelpful.
It can result in people not even attempting to do something, just in case they end up failing.
A perspective that is much more useful to adopt is that there is no such thing as failure, there's only feedback.
I'm sure you've heard this before, and I'm sure you can argue strongly against it. That's the easy bit actually. It's much harder to argue for it.
But here's the thing; what would change if you actually believed it?
If you truly believed that all events are simply just experiences from which you can continue the narrative of your life, then how would it affect you?
Would you be open to actively picking up a metaphorical pen and proactively writing the next chapter with a firmer idea of how you want the story to continue?
Don't Look Back In Anger
This sort of perspective can help you to value all your past ‘failures’ and frustrations as foundation stones for the life and career you are creating for yourself now.
Without mistakes you never learn anything. 'Failure' is an integral part of success.
If you haven't thought this way before try using this perspective for the next few days and see how it feels to realise there is no such thing as failure.
Note down how it feels and what you learned from thinking like this.
Another approach for accepting or even embracing failure is not thinking too highly of yourself.
I don't mean lower your standards or let people trample over you, just be less precious about your feelings. It's just a feeling.
If you have an elevated view of your own importance, you can be more afraid of what people will think of you if you 'fail'.
This makes it more unlikely for you to take beneficial risks and increases the likely pain for when things don't go as you've planned ('failure').
If you've already accepted that people might not like what you do then you have less to lose. When you do fail, which is very likely by the way, if not inevitable, you can laugh at yourself!
Nothing will drive your fear away faster than being quick to acknowledge your own mistakes with a laugh.
You And Me, We're History
Look back to your past for an event that didn’t go the way you planned and you got yourself worked up about. Something that mattered then and seemed important at the time, but that doesn't matter now.
If it doesn't really matter now, did it really matter back then? Perhaps it did, but as much as you thought it did?
Remind yourself that your failures are rarely as final as the word failure seems to sound. Instead think of them as lessons that help you gain insight into how to improve performance.
Mistakes are the most effective legal performance enhancers known on the planet. Embrace them!
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join Iain's mailing list to receive the latest Top Tips every Friday. As a subscriber you'll always be the first to read it, BEFORE it makes it to the blog. Plus you'll get the latest news and offers.
Iain hates SPAM. He will never sell your information, for any reason.