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Changing Our Attitude to Failure

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Changing Our Attitude to Failure

Everyone loves a winner, and their stories of success fill our news feed and airways.

But what about those who fail? Failures that cut to the core of families, friendships and professional relationships? Unless a crime is committed in the process, or it results in thousands being made redundant, we often don’t hear about those events. In our culture, failure is not considered something to write home about. In fact, people will go to great lengths to conceal or minimise the extent of their situation.

Most stories of failure are framed in the shadow of an overwhelming success. But the focus is on the win. The mention of the failure is only there to make the success all that more remarkable. You see, we all love the idea of being the Phoenix, but no one really wants to go through the fire. We want to be the colourful bird in flight and not think too much about the time it spent covered in ash.

We associate failure with all things negative. It’s certainly not something we strive for, not something we are taught to be proud of, and generally not something we even talk about. It is often the elephant in the room …We all know it’s happened, but no one wants to discuss it. And if the subject is broached, it’s skipped and skirted around with terms like, ‘moved on from’, ‘pulled out of’ or ‘so, I hear things didn’t work out …’

Maybe people are being polite, or they honestly don’t know what to say; being more at ease with those situations starts with changing our attitude toward failure.

Instead of waiting until someone has restored their reputation as a business hero, we need to encourage them while they are still floundering. Some well-placed words at that point may mean the difference between someone finding their feet again or giving up completely. Reminding someone of their strengths when they have lost faith in themselves is the lifeline we all need to be prepared to offer.

Is it possible that we could learn to anticipate failure as a positive thing? To look forward to its process? Perhaps that would take the sting out of the word. Perhaps it would remove the fear and stigma associated with something that deep down, we know is integral to our success.

Failure is an essential part of life, and we do ourselves no favours in pretending otherwise.

Failure can be our teacher if we let it. It can highlight the faults in our plans, methods, or even our personality, and give us the opportunity to bolster our skills and improve our approach to future ventures. And it is important to remember there is a future. The end of one project does not mean we are finished.

Harnessing the lessons learned in the valleys will help us reach the peaks again, and experience once more, the rush of a win and the high that comes with personal achievement. Take comfort in the fact that you are not on this road alone.

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