I used to see failures as disasters. If I
failed, that meant that others wouldn't trust me any more,
that they would see me as a failure, that they would judge
me harshly and avoid me. I was pretty silly.
Failure is simply failure--trying something and not being
able to do it. Some of my biggest failures have been
some of my greatest learning experiences, and I don't
regret them a bit. In fact, I'm very glad of them.
Because I saw failure in such a dramatic light, the fear
of failure was one of my strongest driving forces. I
wasn't driven by the desire to do the best I could or the
desire to learn or the desire to help others; rather, I
was driven by the fear of failure and judgment, and while
I did accomplish a lot of things in those days, I never
really reached my full potential in anything because I
simply wasn't striving to reach my potential--I was
striving to avoid failure.
Nowadays, I'm the first person to recognize my failures,
and I'm the one who points them out to others so that they
can have a good laugh at them, too. "Look what
I tried," I can say now, "and it sure didn't
work." And by being open about the failure
instead of trying to hide it, I can actually learn from it
and grow as a person. I can also help others to deal
in a healthy way with their failures--not by laughing at
them, of course, but by helping them to accept the
failures and not judge themselves as failures because of
something they've done or haven't done.
This is all fine, of course, to a certain extent.
When others are depending on me and I'm doing something
that we all know I'm capable of and that's important, then
failure isn't an option. When I've made promises,
failure to come through on those promises is not something
to laugh at. When I'm driving, failure to follow the
rules of the road isn't something to take lightly, for
other people's safety is at stake. But all in all,
since I've stopped taking most of my failures so darned
seriously, my life has been much more fun and much less
stressful, and I like both of those changes.
How do we learn that failure is such a "drastic"
Why are we so willing to judge ourselves harshly for
failing to do something, even if it's something we've
never done before and have had no preparation for?
What's your most recent failure? How drastic
was it really? Was it life-changing, or just
something you did or didn't do? If it was
life-changing, how might you avoid repeating it?