I think that “failure” has its roots not in the act of failing but what we think about failure. After all, failing is just the act of not accomplishing what we set out to accomplish. It is simply that and nothing more. But when our minds get into the mix of failure, all hell breaks out.
What is the anatomy of failure in your minds? It is something that is unique to each of us and possibly we revert to the age of the first time we know that we failed and the reaction of the people who witnessed our failure. Certainly, it was not when we were learning to walk. If you watch a baby beginning to walk, you notice that they end up on their butts more than striding across the room. And our parents think it is cute, adorable or whatever. Their reaction is mainly about acceptance and approval.
It is useful to think back to the first time you knew you failed and what happened then. I suspect that it was around age 5 or 6 and a bicycle had something to do with the failure. Falling off a bicycle when you want to ride it sooooo much is an absolute failure. It is possible that the reaction of people watching is dismay or disgust, or they ridicule you in an unkind way. What happens is not your reaction to failure. It is instead your reaction to shame, not making the standard etc. Of course, this is an example and you will have a better one that is uniquely yours.
The point is that we are not reacting to the failure, but instead to what we say to ourselves about it.
Here are some things that clients say to me when they have failed.
I know everyone is disappointed in me.
Everyone is laughing at me.
My (fill in the blank) thinks I am a loser.
How can I face my colleagues, staff, family?
Who did I think I am for even trying (fill in the blank)?
There is another way to view failure that may be more transformative. Failure is just that—failure. Failure allows us to see the next path or step to take. It also allows us to evaluate if we really want what we thought we wanted. If we decide yes, this is exactly what I want, then failure allows us to be more creative in new ways to get it.
Certainly, I am not being a Pollyanna, failure hurts and is certainly a way to make us stop and think about what we are really up to. As business people we try many things and fail often. To succeed, an entrepreneur must make friends with failure.
If you want support in turning your failure into a success, please contact me. I am here for you.