When something fails, it is done, finished, the end. There is no energy or passion for failure. Hide the failed idea in the closet and forget about it because it is (whisper) a failure. We say with a somber tone, “The product failed in market.” “Martha failed to meet expectations for her job.” “John failed his science test.” Yet embedded in each of those statements is an untold story, a journey, something to learn, or to do differently the next time.
What would happen if we eliminated failure from our lexicon? Instead of saying “The product failed” you might report, “The product didn’t meet sales goals.” Now you can investigate causes for low sales. “Martha failed to meet expectations for her job” might become, “Martha does not have the Excel spreadsheet skills required to create financial reports.” Replace “John failed his science test” with “John missed all of the questions on his test about plant science.” Now Martha and John know where to focus their energy to improve. By reframing failure, we are able to move into action instead of hitting a static wall. We are able to focus on action items instead of getting swept away in the negative emotion of failure.
I think failure is a state of mind – it’s your choice to look at a situation as a failure or as an opportunity to learn. Focus on the cause of your problem or situation and you have a place to begin generating solutions, to change behavior, to improve and create better outcomes next time.
We know that fear of failure can block creative thinking. It’s important to embrace failure as a way to encourage big thinking and risk-taking. Celebrating failure can pave the way for future success, igniting creative thinking for the next big breakthrough.
Babe Ruth was one of the greatest hitters of all time, with a career record of 714 home runs. He was also a master of strikeouts. That’s because he always swung for home runs. Ruth either succeeded big or failed spectacularly. He didn’t let fear of failure get in his way.
So go out and swing for home runs and if you happen to strike out, make a conscious choice to shift into a mindset of positive learning, open to insights and new possibilities that result from your experience.
Let us know what you think. Is failure a state of mind?