We all want to move forward but the risk, at times, just seems to great. Why are we so nervous about tripping and falling? Why are we so nervous to fail?
In the following few moments I want to define failure and then look at our response to it.
We want to define failure for one main reason – Perspective leads to perseverance. So then, in identifying what failure is lets first look at what it is not.
Failure is NOT
- Avoidable – Everyone of us will experience failure at some time in our lives.
- An event – Failure is not an isolated situation.
- Final – All of us have the opportunity to bounce back from failure.
- Reversible – I can always learn from it and change so that the situation does not repeat itself.
- Subjective – Your perception of and response to your mistakes is what determines whether your actions are failures or not.
2 Types of Failures
Character. These mistakes will affect your work. While the rest of society will show by their actions that failures with your character will not, we must realize that you can not detach your character from the rest of who you are. Character failures need to be addressed immediately. There are 2 ways that these areas come to light, check them out.
- Character mistakes that are discovered and not disclosed will lose all trust from those you hope to lead and influence
- Character mistakes that are disclosed and not discovered will lose some trust, but have a higher chance of regaining the trust of those you hope to lead and influence.
Skills. These mistakes checker our lives but are not character issues.
Our Response to Failure
Our perspective is what will give us perseverance when we fall. Thomas Edison, who “failed” over a thousand times before inventing the light bulb said, “Do not call it a failure call it an education.” His perspective gave him great perseverance and we need to do the same. Edison responded with learning and another attempt, how do you respond? Here are a few of the common responses that we have when we fail.
- Blow Up – over react and take it out on others
- Cover Up – lie
- Speed Up – just push harder to fix the mistake
- Back Up – backpedaling to avoid responsibility
- Give Up – throw in the towel
A Better Option
1. Accept responsibility for the failure – this is owning up to…
- what you cannot do = based on skill
- should not do = based on talent
- ought not to do = based on character
2. Review the experience – ask good questions
- What caused the failure?
- What can I learn from this experience?
- How can I turn this into a success?
- Who can help me with this issue?
- Where do I go from here?
3. Get up, get over it, and get going!
The Risks Involved
I understand that the risks are very present. I am not trying to ignore them or be naive, but acknowledge that the risks are worth the pursuit. If they are not, aim for something higher.
We all know Helen Keller, she was blind and deaf, for her each and every step was a risk. Think about it she could not see or hear anything. For most of us if you were to blind fold us and put ear plugs in our ears we would be paralyzed with immobility. Not Helen. Check out what she says to us about the topic of risk taking.
Security is mostly a superstition. it does not exist n nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run then outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.
As you change your perspective of failure I wanted to give you a few last-minute notes that I hope will help you during your journey.
- Doing the right thing is never risky.
- Come to the conclusion that nothing is ever done perfect the first time – not in sports, music, life or in leadership.
- Understand that courage is not in the absence of fear but in conquering it.
- Those that we see as truly courageous do not run blindly into danger, they understand the risk and are ready to meet it.
- Do everything you can and be willing to risk for the highest of pursuits.
A Final Perspective on Failure
Author George Matthew Adams provides a great end for us. Read it twice – it is that good!
In this life, we get only those things for which we hunt, for which we strive, and for which we are willing to sacrifice. It is better to aim for something you want – even though you miss it – then to get something that you did not aim for and get that which you did not want! If we look long enough for what we want in life we are almost sure to find it, no matter what that objective may be.
Note: John Maxwell’s book “Failing Forward” was of huge impact to me in this area and comes through in this discussion. For further reading on the topic I highly suggest reading his book.