Sara Blakely, Founder and CEO of Spanx, learned the secret of failure at a young age. Her father used to ask her and her brother at dinner table what they had failed at. She would get a high five when she failed and he’d say ‘Congratulations, way to go!’. It redefined failure for her – failure was not about the outcome. You only failed if you did not try. She still lives by this today. In her company she encourages her team to talk about failures and shares her own ‘oops’ as she calls them. (link to interview)
This is a brilliant way to learn to deal with failures from an early age. I learned it much later in life :). More recently, one insight came at the start of my coaching certification process from one of our leaders. She asked us: Do you know what FAIL stands for? First Attempt In Learning. So go ahead, fail, because then you learn.
It’s true, you can’t learn by standing safely on the side and not trying. If you don’t get on the bicycle, you can’t learn to cycle. And when you are on the bike, you are likely to fall or lose balance.
When you fail at something and stand in that energy of learning, you make greater progress. You don’t waste time thinking how bad it is (unless your failing has dramatic consequences), how bad it makes you look and what others might think of you. Wow – imagine skipping this second-guessing process and immediately jumping to the learning and application of this learning? This doesn’t mean you neglect how you feel but rather acts as an alert and invites you to look at what you have learned. Then, move on.
Failure is the father of Success. Fail. Learn. Succeed.
I would love to hear your thoughts on failure. How do you deal with it? What have you learned?