In our culture failure has been given a negative stigma. Instead, we should embrace failure as something to strive for when leading to the edge of our capacity and to be our best selves.
Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World said: “Throughout history, the great originals have been the ones who failed the most because they were the ones who tried the most.” According to Brené Brown, author of Rising Strong, said People who are best able to deal with discomfort learn the most from failure.
I think that it’s time we reconsider our perspective and mindset around Failure.
This is part 4 of the 5-part series on The Fear of Failure by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.There’s no better way to discover your strengths and weaknesses than through failure’s lessons. Click To Tweet
Living with an underlying fear of failure can be a cause of significant personal struggle. While fear most likely cannot be completely eliminated, it can be managed. A major shift in perspective and mindset is required—something with which a seasoned leadership coach can assist you with.
Robert Kelsey, author of What’s Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don’t Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can (Capstone, 2012), offers good suggestions.
Begin by recognizing that no one is immune to failure. Failure is a part of the human experience. Embracing the reality of fear, understanding that it is real and acknowledging how it’s affecting your leadership (and your life) are the first steps in managing the power that fear has over you. Fear is not bad, it just is. Healthy fears can serve to protect us, allowing us to respect and remain aware of potential threats.
It’s perfectly okay, and, in fact, advisable to recognize that allowing the fear of failure to control your thoughts and actions can be managed. You can devise strategies for dealing with the fears. It’s admirable when someone acknowledges a fear and takes action to address it–and painful to watch someone deny or hide behind a fear, allowing it to take over. Such fears are seldom secret–others see your struggle. So, hiding behind a fear does not protect you.
Another shift in perspective or mindset is recognizing that people survive and can thrive following failure experiences. Failure does not have to be the black cloud that some believe it to be. It’s rarely the final blow and life does go on. If you worry about other’s judgments, your fears are likely driving those thoughts. We have all experienced failure at one time or another. It can make us less critical of others.
Failure has intrinsic benefits. Leaders can choose to learn and grow through their failures. Wisdom, work ethic, strength, and self-improvement are seldom attributable to a continued string of successes. There’s no better way to discover your strengths and weaknesses than through failure’s lessons. Humility and openness are admired, which can engender trust.
And, while we’re on the subject, what exactly is a Failure? Is setting out to achieve a worthy goal, applying your best efforts and coming up short the true definition? How does this compare to someone who does nothing or gives less than a best effort? Another perspective is: failure is the act of not trying, giving up, or not caring. Perspective is everything.
Sometimes, a good conversation with a trusted peer, mentor, or leadership coach helps to regain perspective and mindset. What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.