August 26
When we begin to take our failures
non-seriously, it means we are ceasing
to be afraid of them.  It is of immense
importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.

Katherine Mansfield


Today's Meditation:

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.

Questions to consider:

How do we learn that failure is such a "drastic" thing?

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?

For further thought:

You need the ability to fail.  I'm amazed at the number of
organizations that set up an environment where they do not
permit their people to be wrong.  You cannot innovate
unless you are willing to accept some mistakes.

Charles Knight

More on failure.


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