Not all Failure is Created Equal
Why does the word failure have a negative connotation? Is failure bad? Well duh you might say, “of course it is bad to fail.” Well I’m not so sure about that, actually I am sure. If anyone reading this knows how to walk, then they must have failed a few times, they must have fallen down and gotten up a few times while learning to walk. They didn’t stay down when they fell, they didn’t feel so bad that they gave up. I’d like to propose that not all failure is created equal.
Obviously operating on a person and killing them is a bad failure. Building a building that collapses is a bad failure. But these examples are the outliers. Within the range of your average failure I believe effortful failure can be good. Let me clarify.
First, let me clarify what I mean by effortful failure. If a person has tried as hard as they could, that’s effortful failure. Obviously just slogging by is not effortful failure, that’s laziness. When someone tries as hard as they can and fails, I believe that should be celebrated.
I believe that should be celebrated because it is important in order to grow and become a better person, to stretch yourself, to go out of your comfort zone, to try challenging things. When you stretch yourself, when you go out of your comfort zone you risk failing. But in my opinion it is a risk worth taking. If you are afraid of failure, if you learn failure is bad then you won’t go out of your comfort zone and it will be difficult to grow and get better.
The critical point here is learning from failure. Failure is information, information that tells you how to go forward and what to do differently. If, when you fail, you don’t use this information to do things differently going forward then failure is not bad, it’s a wasted opportunity.
Starting today what can you do differently? Reconceptualize failure as something that isn’t so terrible. Learn to be self-compassionate. Go out of your way to go out of your comfort zone. Remember a time you failed and survived.