I thought after a long week at work, I will relish Team India winning the World Cup T20 this Sunday. Yep…we’ll know how that turned out! In fact, my entire family feels the disappointment of the blue boys losing the opportunity to bring the cup home after the lull period of 10 years or so. At the same time, I am sure that players in the team would be disappointed even more rather with the failure of this level must be difficult to recover easily. However, I am amazed to see how people change in a situation of success vis-a-vis failure. We love and celebrate success while we shun the opposite, failure. But is this logic still relevant in the world of ambiguity and volatility?
One of the few universal truths in life is that we all fail a lot. Life is all about ups and downs. It’s a normal part of the human experience just like breathing. Instead, it’s not just normal; it’s essential. Our growth as an individual as well as a professional has a lot to do with how we understand and use the setbacks we face. Unfortunately, even today, the experience of failure is regarded as highly negative. The word ‘Failure’ itself has taken on a huge negative stigma. People don’t want to focus on their failures or have others know anything about them. That’s too bad because they truly do represent the key to your success.
I personally dread failing; I don’t like it and rather would work even harder so that I can overcome it. However, from my experience, I have learned that certain failure is inherited in the system. Therefore, it’s time to change and consider failure as our friend who is there to guide us. It’s time to transform how one thinks about it and leverage it to perform even better in life. From my experience, I can say that we need to stop thinking about success and failure as chronic states. When we successfully bring out new initiatives and revive certain aspects which got lost before it can be defined as achievement in one defined area. Relative to failure, that can be explained as one part of the process of learning that can enable enhancing the opportunity for success. Yet, when one is asked to implement this perspective on the ground it is outright difficult, to say the least. The reason is we fear failure! It is crucial to comprehend that fear is not driven only by self-confidence rather it is created socially. Let’s reflect on how our life has been, from a very young we are trained to get good grades and chase one scholarship after another. We fear a bad grade, making fear of failure a deeply ingrained mental process from our earliest days. On top of this, we live in a society that is based on competition. In addition to sports competitions, we compete for internships, jobs, promotions, and so on. No one wants to lose. That’s why people avoid new jobs and career paths and refrain from trying new hobbies.
With anything new, there comes a learning curve, and definitely would take time to get anything right. However, we are wired in a way that we focus more on one failure incident instead of stepping back to see the big picture. We have to remember that any given failure is but one frame in a very long piece of film. It’s real and it can be painful, but it does not define us. When you give a failure too much weight and let it define you like a label instead of letting it ignite learning, well, you start a predictable failure cycle. We avoid failure. We avoid dealing with it when it does happen. The failures pile up mentally, causing you a huge cognitive burden until, finally, you have a breakdown and you question your worth. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The transformation of how you view failure begins right now. You only have to remember one basic piece of logic. Failure is normal and necessary. I want you to think about that idea. You see, when you accept and embed that idea into your daily thinking routine, that’s when the negative idea of failure begins to fade while positive ideas about learning and improving become your focus. The problem is giving failure too much weight and letting it define you instead of letting it ignite learning. As per Gallup, this is the number 1 reason why employees don’t want to set out of their comfort zone and refrain from doing anything new. The transformation of how we perceive failure begins right now. Let’s start with a common yet powerful fact of life…Everyone fails. When we fail, we need to remember that we’re in great company. Before conquering television, Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first television job. Yep, fired and some senior folks in the company even gave feedback on her competence. Who can forget the story of Walt Disney, who started multiple companies that completely failed before successfully creating the empire we admire today? Honestly, there are more like them for us to understand failure is part of the learning circle. They were willing to fail, while the majority of us quit after one big failure they refused and instead embraced the cycle of success – Try, fail, succeed. Now, the first three aspects can be repeated many times to produce one particular success. Thus, we should embrace the same mindset as implementing the adage, “You have to break a few eggs, to make a great omelet.”