Do you associate failure with weakness? Do you feel agony when you think about failure? Do you experience anxiety at the thought of failure? If so, you are only promoting shame and holding yourself back from success.
- “Failure is not an option” is in my opinion perhaps the worst advice ever communicated. When you dare greatly and jump into a situation where you risk failure, you will succeed even and especially when you fail. Why? The decision to risk failure is most often a simple step in structure. It is the emotional wall and the psychological factor that makes it feel difficult. When we don’t fail, we begin to lose empathy, compassion, and kindness as we lose perspective of what it means to fail, which my friends is very human. And empathy is the elixir for shame. And shame is at the root of every unhealthy negative emotion. Increased empathy = decreased shame.
- Fear of failure is the foundation of perfectionism. Perfectionism is a very slippery slope, an extremely dangerous path, and also a support system for shame. Some perfectionists may be successful on paper (i.e. ivy league graduate, professional title, bank account balance) but perfectionists are most often the farthest from success when it comes to happiness, contentment, beautiful relationships, unconditional self acceptance, and so may other more humanistic successes.
- We learn when we fail. When you fail, you learn more about yourself. You acquire knowledge about others. And you learn more about what you are striving to achieve. You think any inventor of anything revolutionary didn’t fail? I wonder how many times Benjamin Franklin failed before figuring out the light bulb (I hear over 10,000). I wonder how many times Steve Jobs failed before changing the technology world?
- We know now more than ever that failing increases resilience. When you fail, you get stronger. Resilience is absolutely one of the most important factors for success in any personal or professional endeavor. If you can’t rebound, you will surely struggle.
- Take it from a perfectionist in recovery, I hated failure (still do sometimes). And I hated myself when I failed (still do sometimes). Thanks to a few wonderful and enlightened individuals, I practice being more aware of the opportunities to fail and when I recognize it, I jump in head first. And trust me, every wonderful success in my relationships, every aspect of my health, and every achievement in my professional life is a result of significant failure.
I implore you to fail often as it is the path to success. Failure is the origin of of the most wondrous freedoms, the most revolutionary creations, and the most fantastic human connections. Without failure, we will continue to drain the life force of empathy in our world. And without empathy, shame and suffering will thrive.