So many of us expect everything we do to be successful. We look to success to show us our value or to be the top of the heap wherever we are. It doesn’t matter who we beat or by how much but just that we win overall. We show our value by winning. How many times in our schooling did we want the 90 percentile and definitely not be satisfied in the 80s? We want and then feel a failure when we don’t achieve what we want. Even when we succeed we still pass that and go onto the next success and then the next – always wanting the picture to stay the same. We are rarely taught how to fail.
For me, failure taught me more than success. Success is of the moment and temporary but failure equates to a do-over. It makes me stop and think. Why didn’t it work? Did I support or construct wrong? What did I want to accomplish or succeed in? What would it have meant to me? It makes me re-evaluate. It never luckily made me feel “not good enough.” It opened my eyes and brain to different possibilities or outcomes. My usual question was why and then I proceeded to find out “why.” I was born with an insatiable curiosity so failure was just a choice in re-doing not in giving up. I looked deeper and further. The success then was more satisfying because it came with a higher value and accomplishment. Failure gave me a deeper sense of instinct in how to make it better and then my success was more personal.
I have a grandson who plays hockey and as all players do, he went through a scoring slump. So I saw he was unhappy with himself and I asked him if he was unhappy which of course he said he was. Well, then I said to him rather than being unhappy why don’t you think of it differently. He looked at me as usual like what was I talking about? So I said, scoring is your “normal”, right? He answered of course. So you aren’t scoring now – so what changed? Was it that you grew; hold your stick differently; or just need a readjustment? All of a sudden he wasn’t unhappy – he was pondering what I had just said. So in the next game I saw him reevaluating things on the ice and trying different things to get back to his “normal”. Soon of course, he started scoring but I got him to start thinking differently. Now when something isn’t the “norm”, he takes the time to figure it out rather than just slumping into the “failure” mode.
Look at failure differently. Failure is what gives us impetus to try a different way of doing things. It teaches us to rethink, reevaluate, redo, and then the success will be better. Don’t give up but learn to use a different map.