So a few weeks back I rambled on in my ‘Freedom by being vulnerable’ blog and failure was mentioned quite a few times. After having a week of what feels a zillions failures and setbacks, I’d like to tackle and break the word ‘failure’ down (which for so many of us has a very negative feel to it), and turn a negative into a positive.
And sweet Lord reading the meaning in the dictionary it’s no wonder that most of us don’t like anything associated to the word failure and try and swerve this noun at all times and as best as possible.
- lack of success.
“an economic policy that is doomed to failure”
synonyms: lack of success, non-success, non-fulfilment, abortion, miscarriage, defeat, frustration, collapse, foundering, misfiring, coming to nothing, falling through;
- “their failure to comply with the basic rules”
the neglect or omission of expected or required action.
synonyms: negligence, remissness, non-observance, non-performance, dereliction;
omission, neglect, oversight. “He felt guilty for what seemed like a failure in duty”
But you know what, let’s not be scared off and have a closer look at all the positives around one of the worse F-words and break this sucker right down!
It must be said that nowadays the stigma around ‘failure’ has lessened a lot. Partly because social media has been shown lots of videos of famous people, like Oprah Winfrey, talking frankly how often they were shown the door and failed but refused perusing their dreams. With the result of eventually succeeding big time. Also because of recording that for example 10% of start up businesses only succeed after having tried and failed numerous times before making profits. Their success came from failing, adjusting, learning from previous mistakes and trying again and again and from knowing success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal. Because you see even when are a winner and are right on top, you still have to keep working at it as the world around us changes constantly.
Admitting to a mistake is key. Breaking your failure down and understanding it without giving yourself a hard time and learning from it equals success and growth. You see the only true ‘bad’ failure is the one that is repeated over and over again. Also true, ‘bad’ failure is the one to be avoided at all times as this will only limit your chances of success and can even become a phobia by avoiding certain ‘failings’ as they make your anxiety levels rise to the max just thinking about it . A classic example of not learning from one of my true ‘bad’ failures stems back to my driving test. About 20 years ago I failed my driving test twice on the dreaded parallel parking. Oh boy did I feel stupid or what? Even thinking about parallel parking would raise my blood pressure. However did I try and perfect my parallel parking after twice failing? No, not really. I avoided it like the plague! Of course I was jumping for joy when I passed my test the third time! And off I went making the roads unsafe in my first, car a clapped out red mini, my pride and joy. So, was I really successful to pass the third time as parallel parking wasn’t being tested? I admit from day one of my driving freedom I avoided parallel parking at all costs. Even if it meant having to park my car two streets away from my destination and getting soaked in the rain or having to pay bigger parking fees. Funny though, not ever trying to parallel park when I started driving wasn’t a problem as all I mainly needed the car for was the weekly shop. I am paying the price now though. With my life changes and spending more time in the bigger cities for photo shoots and meetings I really struggle with parallel parking, which results often in losing precious time finding a space big enough for me to throw my Nissan Juke in. Moral of the story? Failing isn’t that bad. Not learning from it and swerving it can be a pain in the backside later in life and cost in time or money. Not to mention looking like a total idiot if you have a passenger who is taking the total Mickey when you are driving around for ages pointing out places to parallel park in but having to admit you simply can’t park! Anyone who would like to take time out and teach me how to parallel park, please contact me, as I am determined to get this failure of mine under control and would nothing more to sling my car parallel parking in the tiniest parking spot The Stig style in the near future.
Great things do arise from failure you see. The number one reason for failure is procrastination. Procrastination come from lack of motivation, lack of discipline, poor management, habits, lack of skills or seeking perfection. All these in reality are just excuses for not performing. An excuse to let failure win. An excuse to not succeed. An excuse to see failure as a total negative instead of a part of success. Therefore in my humble opinion failure can be more important than success. This is way I refuse to feel totally beat after mentioning before it seems I had a week of failures and setbacks. This is way I choose to celebrate, embrace and encourage my failings as I know by failing without working through these failures I won’t be able to move on to bigger and better things. I won’t grow as a person. I will be able to have a new opportunity to begin again but this time with more intelligently. By giving myself permission to fail, I give myself, at the same time permission to excel.
As a mother I want my children to succeed and definitely do not enjoy seeing them fail. But in reality I know now that my children need to fail at times. Failure will build their resilience. It will help them to cope better. It will teach them to carry on regardless and most importantly, it will teach them so much about life. I truly hate it when my child comes to me upset about something they feel they failed with. However I do tell both my kids this will only help them to handle life’s challenges and will make them so much stronger. Again as a mum I want to protect my children and I would love to shelter them from feelings of failure and hardship. But then again if I raised them like that they would miss out on so many valuable lessons on winning and losing, which are the best tools for navigating their way through life. The last thing I want for my kids is for them to be anxious about failure. I am trying to be one of their role models by showing resilience to failure is key to strengthening your character, and by trying again and again you win anyway no matter what the outcome. Famous basketball player Michael Jordan once said: “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” I hope my children will enter the adult world knowing there are no failures, that they are just experiences and how they will react to an outcome will be their true success to a happy and fulfilling life, full of personal growth and experiences. Earlier, I asked my 11 year old son, whilst tucking in to our Sunday meal how he sees failure. His response was short and sweet but made me proud to be his mother. “Obviously I fail at times Mum. I am only human! Obviously I have to try again and again to be successful at certain things. But obviously (this word seems to have to be thrown into every sentence when you are 11) failing can be so much fun too!” This is when Fin started telling me his funny stories when things went wrong, making me nearly choke on a carrot! Because, let’s keep it real if you are not prepared to even be wrong sometimes, you will never come up with anything original or with a great story to tell.
The best stories arise from not fearing mistakes, as no one ever became interesting by not failing. By avoiding failure you will also avoid great opportunities and success. So go on try something new, something that scares you, something that you think you might not be able to do. Push those boundaries. Fail and have fun doing so. Take on my 11 year old son Fin’s attitude and be able to laugh at yourself. Obviously, (had to throw this one in for Fin’s sake) the word failure will become your best friend!
I will be jumping back on my tightrope this week after having a chilled out weekend with my Fin, knowing and having faith it’s all part of my journey. Part of my new adventure, I am working on behind the scenes. Part of stability and change. Part of my failings and successes. Part of being able to tell some funny stories.
Happy failing everyone! Accept them all with grace and do it in style!