I’ve listened to several speakers in the past month or so, and one thing has stuck out to me: We need to stop being so afraid of failure. This really resonated with me, probably because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, so I completely understand this constant struggle we have to do everything right. I also have Responsibility in my top 10 strengths, which often means I have a hard time dealing with it when I do things wrong.
I’ve been hearing so much good advice on this topic lately, I wanted to share some of the insights from speakers that got me thinking.
Purple Ink friend Chris recently suggested that I listen to him speak at The Failure Institute’s quarterly summit. I’m very introverted, so I don’t get excited about events that include small group discussions (especially discussions about personal failures). I went, though, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Chris and another speaker stood in front of the group and told us about their failures in business, why the high expectations we set for ourselves are often ridiculous, and how they had been able to move on from failure to become successful. Listening to the speakers and to people in my small group brought this point to the forefront of my mind: Failure is okay. Don’t wallow in the anger and disappointment; move forward and take action to fix it and you’ll recover just fine.
Focus on the Good
I’d be a terrible marketer if I didn’t include Purple Ink’s own JoDee Curtis on the list – and I think she makes great points, too! At this year’s HR Indiana Conference, JoDee spoke about creating JoyPowered workspaces. One of her main points is that we spend too much time focusing on our weaknesses. What will really bring joy to our workspaces (and our lives) is keeping the focus not on how we’re failing, but on what we’re doing well. (Shameless plug: find out more about this topic in JoDee’s book, which can be purchased here)
Jump Off the Cliff and Grow Wings on the Way Down
The title of this section paraphrases a Kurt Vonnegut quote used by Seth Godin in his keynote speech at the 2016 HR Indiana Conference. Seth reminded everyone that while we may never be ready, we’re always prepared. Other awesome quotes from Seth’s talk:
“If failure isn’t an option, then neither is success.”
“The best way to not be afraid is to be creative.”
“The riskiest thing you can do is play it safe.”
One of the other keynote speakers at HR Indiana was Avish Parashar. He urged us to develop our ability to improvise. My main takeaway? The 3 F’s: Have FUN. Don’t be afraid to FAIL. FOCUS on what you can control, and let go of the rest.
Why are we so afraid of failure? Of course, there are always consequences, but realistically, are any of them SO bad that it’s not even worth taking a risk? Is your entire life really going to be ruined because you took a chance? Did you really want to work somewhere that would fire you for your first mistake without giving you the opportunity to fix it?
The alternative to failure is living your life extremely carefully and not taking any chances. And in that case, maybe you didn’t fail…but did you really do anything you were excited about?