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The Beauty of Failure

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What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?  I’ve read that dozens of times in many books and I always hate that question.  Of course I know I can fail.  There’s nothing in this world that anyone can do that doesn’t have the chance of failure included, but, is that really such a bad thing?  For me, the real question is, what would you do if you knew you could fail but also knew you’d have a lot of fun trying it and would learn something amazing from the experience?

How many times have you tried something new for the first time and done it perfectly?  Probably not many.  Most things in life take practice and some time to learn what you are doing.  It’s very rare for us to walk into a new situation and perform perfectly.  So why do we expect perfection from ourselves and others so often?  Where is the space for the learning curve?  When we are children, we are expected to mess up.  As adults, why don’t we give ourselves the same expectations?

All the little failures and mistakes add to your experiences and improve your learning.  If everything new that we tried was easy and held no challenge, how quickly would we get bored with life?  What would be the point of trying new things?  It’s the challenge and the struggle to “get it just right” that keeps things interesting and keeps us involved.


7 simple steps to take the sting out of failure:

***Plan to fail

Go into a new situation knowing you are likely to fail and plan ahead of time for how you will handle that failure.  Think about the worst case scenario and how you can handle it if it happens.  Chances are, you will do much better then you expect and the worst case won’t happen.

*** See your “worst case scenario”

What’s the absolute worst thing that can happen if you try this?  Let your imagination run wild!  Think about all the horrible things that can come from this decision.  Write it all down if that help.  The bigger the perceived failure and outcome, the more you’ll be relieved when it just doesn’t happen.  Plus, if you somehow manage to end up with the worst case, you’ll have some idea how to handle it, because you won’t be surprised.

*** Be prepared to review your performance honestly and give yourself credit for what you did or learned.  Honest assessment is not a time to beat yourself up over what you didn’t do properly, it’s a chance to review the situation and see where you can do better next time.

*** Take it easy of yourself.
Pushing for perfection can suck the fun right out of a new experience.  Push yourself to do your best, but acknowledge and embrace your limitations also.

*** Talk to other people who have mastered whatever you’re trying to do.
They’ll be able to tell you how they failed at one point and probably be willing to share with you things that they do now that help them succeed.

*** Celebrate what went right.
Congratulate yourself for taking the chance and celebrate the things you were able to accomplish.  Even in absolute “failure” there are lessons learning and skill acquired.

*** Make a list of other things you’d like to try.
The more new things you try, the more things you’ll want to try.  Make a list of the things you’d like to attempt and go out and give them a shot!  Keeping a list will and crossing off the new projects attempted, will give you a record of what you’ve already done and give you confidence to try again.


This week, we’re going to fail!  Pick something you’ve always wanted to learn or something that makes you uncomfortable.

Single and too shy to ask someone out?  Ask out 30 people and chances are, you’ll not only get a date or two out of it, you’ll also get turned down.  The more times you are turned down, the less you’ll take it personally.

Terrified of public speaking?  Find out where your local Toast Masters group meets and go to a meeting.  Talk to people who share or use to share your same fears and give it a try for yourself.

Failure can be fun!  Make it a point to mess up royally.  Get messy, make those mistakes and learn 100 ways something doesn’t work and so you can find the best way to make it work.  Re-frame your “failure” into a learning experience and you can’t go wrong.  Some times we can be so afraid of failure, that we hold ourselves back from doing something we deeply desire.  When failure becomes our friend, our lives open up in exciting ways.  Regrets come more from the things we are afraid to try then from the things we don’t do perfectly.

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