“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Fail forward — that’s what my friend CJ says a friend used to tell her. It’s a helpful piece of advice; I try to remember it after taking a nosedive about something that matters to me. But it’s not easy. I don’t know about you, but learning how to fail successfully has been tough for me. In general, I’m a retreater, not a returner. When something doesn’t work out, my tendency is to take it personally. I try to shrug it off, but that doesn’t always work very well. Often, rather than trying again and courting failure, I’ll just back off.
But guess what? I’m changing! With great advice from my mentors Dr. Rob Gilbert and Coach Mike Tully about seeing failure as feedback and using it as a form of course correction, I’m getting better at this vital skill. Reframing my attitude and approach about failure has been huge for me.
Here’s something fascinating that Carl Jung said about failure in Modern Man in Search of a Soul: “The psychotherapist learns little or nothing from his successes. They mainly confirm him in his mistakes, while his failures, on the other hand, are priceless experiences in that they not only open up the way to a deeper truth, but force him to change his views and methods.”
And here’s what the writer Sherwood Anderson said in a letter: “I would like you to comprehend freely that what is to be got at to make the air sweet, the ground good under your feet, can only be got at by failure, trial, again and again and again failure.”
Failing your way to success: there’s something liberating about the whole idea, isn’t there? If we can see failure as feedback, the path to a “deeper truth,” and an invitation to rethink our approach to what we’re working on, then it becomes a priceless tool we can use to mine for gold. Any other creative ideas on failure?