I’ve been thinking a lot about “failures” lately. Not like a business failing or failing a class, but more so the very imperfect situation kind when I do something completely wrong or very messily or just straight up crash and burn.
I think we’ve all experienced some sort of “failure” in our lives, yeah? (I think very few situations in our lives are actually “failures”, but I’m using it for simplicity’s sake. More on that later.)
Although we’re always growing in some way, this time last year was a major season of growth for me; stepping out of my comfort zone daily, stretching myself in new and awesome ways. With that growing and stretching, though, came moments and situations where things didn't shake out perfectly (or my imagined ideal scenario) . Far from it, in fact.
These are the moments when I’d or say or do something “wrong”, and I'd get that I-want-to-hide-from-the-world cringy feeling.
Do you ever get that?
I’m a recovering people-pleaser and perfectionist, which has made it challenging to not freak out when these totally imperfect situations happen.
What will people say about me?
Did I just screw this up?
What if this all goes to shit town?
Surprise surprise, these freakouts were doing me no good.
But I was forgetting something major: failures, adversity, challenges can be powerful points of learning and are a necessary part of the growth process.
So really, they’re actually a good thing.
Failures show up for a reason at a particular point in time. They show up to teach you a lesson you need to learn; a lesson that might’ve otherwise taken years to learn! And - hello! - that’s kind of awesome. It can be a big point of gratitude.
So what if -- instead of thinking about these situations as failures, you saw them as learning opportunities? A chance to grow?
Would your reaction change?
My guess is yes, at least a little bit.
So in this light, nothing is actually a “failure”.
I’m finishing up reading Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, and he divides the book into three sections: Aspire, Success and Failure. Failure: an inevitable and perhaps necessary part of anything we set out to do.
Learning from each and every failure.
The next time you’re faced with a failure, stop. Take a deep breathe, and ask yourself: what can I learn from this situation?
Write a list #1-5, and write down 5 things you can learn. If you’ve learned something, consider it a “success” and simply move on from there.
Lastly, you’re not the only one experiencing challenges or adversity, whether it be in your personal or professional life. Some people are just better at hiding it than others. ;)