Feelings of failure
Failure (noun): an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success
When we think of failure, the feelings we associate with it are usually uncomfortable at best and brutally negative at worst. We have this narrative running through our minds that ‘failure is bad’ and we have been fed this line in our culture for so long from family, friends, trusted leaders, academics, mentors...you name it.
I reached out to you and asked ‘’what emotion do you feel when you think of failure?” and the responses were mostly what I anticipated; guilt, fatigue, disappointment, worthlessness, shame, fear, judgment, inferiority, incompetence, and on and on. I hear the same story from clients as we debrief the seasons and situations in their work.
You have a choice
My work is generally asset-based and this comes from years of working in the field of community development. So naturally, I lean into this way of working with clients. I shared more about one of the asset-based reflection exercises I use here. Inevitably, even when using an asset based approach, failures are unearthed and discussed.
Digging deep and looking at our failures right in the face can be challenging. However, once you start looking at your failures as an opportunity to grow, you will be able to incorporate these learnings into your future planning.
How to Embrace Failure:
1. Recognize it. If you don’t acknowledge your failure or mistake, there is no way you will be able to move on from it. This can be categorized in the ‘easier said than done’ category because it means we need to be honest with ourselves.
2. Live in it. Yes, failure can bring up a lot of unpleasant feelings and I’m going to nudge you to sit in them. Feel the feelings. Talk about them. Wallow in them even. Now, do this for a set period of time and then move on to step 3. Everyone will have their own length of time and it won’t do you any good to compare yourself. That being said, I will urge you to not get too comfortable in the negative feelings and be sure to move on just a bit before you feel like you are ready to.
3. Learn from it. This may be one of the most critical steps and one that most people forget to do. Make time to evaluate what happened before and during your failure - what are the big lessons you can take away? Was it bad timing? Were you feeling distracted/busy/tired? Did you neglect to do enough market research or promotion? Be honest and dig deep.
4. Incorporate it. Now that you have a good idea of why you failed, how might you use this information to plan for the future? How will you use this golden knowledge going forward? What will you do again? What will you change? What will you not do next time?
Remember to pause
Remember, the definition of failure is an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful.
Take a moment and pause.
It’s not forever.
You will grow through this experience.
The biggest failure? Not reflecting on it or learning from it.
With all that being said, it can be a real struggle to do this alone. Having somebody outside of your business who can provide a new perspective can be so helpful to allow you to move on and keep doing the amazing work you are so passionate about.
If you are struggling with something in your business - a new offer, product launch, HR issues, etc - please reach out and book a 30-minute connection call. I can be the listening ear you need to talk through the situation and sort out your next steps and can share how I might support you to ensure you grow through the failures you are bound to meet!