Before we get into the topic, I invite you to get a pen and note pad to write what thoughts came into your head when you first read the title. This can identify any underline beliefs, your relationship and the perspective you hold with failures. Any limiting beliefs can have a dramatic impact on decision making, personal growth and stop you from trying new things.
We are subjected to environments which celebrate success and downplay the abilities of those deemed to have failed. This becomes engrained from childhood, in some cases through experiences with the educational system, parenting, sports, social interaction, and our peers. The view becomes one that failure is a bad thing and to be avoided at all costs due to how it makes you feel and what you think others will be thinking about you. We really should be embracing failures as they have moulded us into the person we are today but a change of language can have a drastic change of perspective and behaviour.
If we look at perspective, simply, this is how you perceive an experience based on your viewpoint. When this is coupled with the egoic mind of always wanting to be correct, it can lead to a very judgemental attitude. To give you an idea of this, if you sit across the table from someone with the number six written on a page in between both of you and from your perspective engage in a conversation about what the number is in front of each of you. The ego will be wanting to be correct and win but this is a situation where there is no right answer as both are correct based on the individual’s perspective. We should be more open minded to other possibilities and adapt a non-judgemental attitude to all situations. A humbling saying is Just because you are correct, does not mean the other person is wrong.
If we breakdown what failure is, it is a lack of success for something you have attempted to do. There are many great quotes regarding ‘failure’ which gives an insight into how others view failures. The difference between successful people is that they have failed many more times than unsuccessful people have attempted. In the World Golfers Teachers Federation, we change our approach using an NLP presupposition – there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. This approach has 2 positive outcomes, Success or learning.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail” – Confucius
“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward” – John C, Maxwell
If we were to change how we view failure, we would open the door to many opportunities. With that in mind, if we replace the word’ Failure’ with ‘experiment’ it becomes more empowering as the judgement is replaced with the analysis of “what did I learn” in that experiment instead of “that didn’t work”. One of the best examples of this is Thomas Edison and the light bulb experiments.
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
Edison did not let others perceived failures deter him from the burning desire to solve the problem and create the light bulb.
Regardless of what it is you are looking to accomplish; this change of mindset can be applied to any task or goal. You must identify the reasoning behind the attempts in the first place, what is driving you to achieve success and what is your motivation? The type of motivation is what will be an assistance to success and be one that is either internal or external with Internal being weighted higher. Examples of external motivation are monetary rewards, praise from others and wanting to impress compared to the internal motivations, such as: you love the challenge, you enjoy helping others and self-empowerment. Some of the attributes that this will bring forth in you are, commitment, creativity, diligence, honesty, persistence, excitement, focus and a growth mindset.
So, the next time you are going to take on a challenge with the possibility of “failing”, change the mindset to one of an experiment. Plan out what you want to do and how you want to do it, with a post analytical review to see what you learned, what could have be improved on and what you would do differently the next time you do it. Be persistent, diligent and immersed in the process and you will achieve your intended goal. As set out by Napoleon hill in “Think and grow rich”, when a want becomes a burning desire and is teamed with action, the only thing that will stand in your way is time”.