Failure as a Foundation
I feared failure for much of my childhood and did my best to avoid it by aiming for perfection. It wasn’t until my early adulthood that I started noticing something wasn’t working. The more perfect I tried to be, the more upset I became with the outcomes.
I realized that I needed to cut myself some slack.
So, in my 20s, I started calling myself a “sloppy perfectionist” thinking this was an improvement over being a meticulous perfectionist. This was influenced by what I learned in my economics classes about the Pareto principle (often called the 80/20 rule). I tried focusing on being perfect in just a few vital areas of my life and continued that path for years.
It wasn’t until I reached my 40s that I had my biggest revelation: The more perfect I tried to be in any aspect of my life, the more I failed in that and other areas. Any amount of perfectionism merely prolonged my feelings of anguish with the “imperfect” outcomes.
Following a series of personal hardships, my lesson became crystal clear: Failure is impossible to avoid, and no amount of perfectionism will help.
Now, when I hear the phrase “failure is not an option,” I think, failure is my possibility. I have found that the more I fail, the more chances I get to succeed. My experiences with failure have gained me courage, growth as a leader, and movement towards my purpose…helping to magnify leadership in my world.
Failure has also shaped me into someone who voraciously learns from anything and everything. The growth that sprang from my failures hasn’t been without pain, yet it has also always served as a foundation. Like the trunk of a tree, failure helps create the possibility for greater success and nurtures the branches that continue to expand my leadership.
This Week’s Challenge: Where are you trying to not fail? Once you’ve identified where that is, ask yourself: What might failing here help me be or do? I’m not suggesting you try to fail. Rather, adopt a mindset that failure can be beneficial. And when failure happens, consider how will you learn and grow from it to contribute towards your success.
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