I am yet to read the classic book ‘Failing Forward by John Maxwell’ but I’m not totally new to the principle. We all fail at one time or another, sometimes rather spectacularly. Sometimes we bounce back, undeterred from reaching our goals, other times we sink into the deep hole of failure. We go round and round thinking about why it happened and lamenting the fact that it happened at all. Rather than understanding that we have simply failed at one specific thing – due to one specific approach, we instead look at ourselves and our lives overall, as one big fat failure. The default position for many of us, at times like these, is… ‘I’m terrible at this, I should pick another career.’ Or, ‘I’m just really unlucky, I never get the win.’…
See why that’s flawed?
As we get older we spend so much time preparing for things and protecting ourselves from potential failure, partly because we have this learned inclination to take any failures as a direct and whole representation of us and partly because we have had it drummed into us that anything less than success is just unacceptable. But what if the only way to success, was through failure? Why are we spending so much time and energy trying to avoid it, if it just leaves us spinning our wheels?
Failure, when done correctly, allows us to stop and take stock of what happened, why it happened and therefore what not to do a second time – thus progress or failing forward.
FAILING FORWARD – A ‘HOW TO’ GUIDE
Stop looking at each failure as a direct representation of you as a person. You failed at something, not everything. Accept responsibility for the thing that you did that resulted in failure, learn from it but do not take it personally.
Understand that failure is only temporary. Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, whilst expecting different results. Don’t act insane. Rather than metaphorically banging your head against a brick wall, change tack, switch approach and you’ll soon see that the initial failure was just a temporary state along the way to success.
Develop a growth mindset. Meaning, don’t go out of your way to avoid failure. Growing and progressing should be at the forefront of your mind so that you are constantly driven to try new things. Don’t freeze on the off chance that you might make a mistake, understand that the best place to be, is in beta. Not perfect but giving it a go, regardless. Failing fast and failing forward.
Dream big but be realistic. Set those huge, scary goals – the bigger the better! But make sure that you have realistic expectations of the journey, it won’t all be plain sailing. If it is, then you’re not doing it right.
Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. If you spend forever and a day trying to teach yourself maths, when you’re utterly terrible at maths, you will be missing out on endless opportunities to show the world just how brilliant you are at science. Take the path of least resistance and operate from a place of strength. You get my drift?
Don’t play the victim. If everything in your life is happening to you then you are giving up a huge amount of your innate power. How can you learn from something if you don’t really think you had any part in it? Think about how you respond to things, outlook is everything.
Let that shit go. Seriously, let it go. You made a mistake? Take a pause, take a moment to assess and then it’s time to bounce back. It’s a fact that no amount of thinking about it, will change it. For those of you that are currently feeling stuck and like you’re a failure, I’ll be honest with you… I have spent weeks of my life, beating myself up for past mistakes, feeling engulfed with shame and bitterness. Remembering how I would make more bad choices from a place of desperation and clouded judgement. I now feel so foolish for not choosing to look at each of those mistakes with gratitude, as they have been some of my biggest opportunities for growth. I could kick myself but I won’t, because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that I can either feel like a failure or move forwards towards being a success, I cannot do both and neither can you – choose wisely.
I hope this has helped, at least a few of you, in some way? As I mentioned in my previous post… Get in touch with any topic requests or any specific questions you might have and I’ll do my best to answer them.