The Benefits of Failing Successfully
In this issue: Is it Time to Redefine Failure? / The Lighter Side of Success and Failure
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I'm Andrea J. Miller and this is my “On Leading Well” Newsletter. I send this to people in my networks, people I’ve met recently, and friends I want to keep in touch with. You can unsubscribe (SEE THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE EMAIL) anytime, I won’t be offended).
Is it Time to Redefine Failure?
How do you define failure?
If you’re like most people you probably just look at the outcome, e.g. did I achieve my goal?
And if you did, then you pass “go” and immediately claim your success on social media.
If not, then dejection may slowly start to set in as you begin to ruminate over what you could’ve done differently.
However, life, like the stories I write for this newsletter is never quite that simple.
For years you’ve been told that the key to success is to fail fast and fail often.
This now-ubiquitous saying has become something of a badge of honor as well as a mantra for some of the most successful and also, most forgotten companies (sometimes failure really is just failure).
But the reality is, it’s not actually extolling the virtues of failing, as much as the importance of doing, and continuing to do until you get it right (at least for now)
Real success comes from commitment and giving it your all.
And within that effort, hopefully, you learn.
But do you actually fail?
The Benefits of Failure
Last week a friend told me about her “failure.”
She ran for office and lost.
And within that process, some incredible things happened…
She stepped out of her comfort zone.
Stood up for her values.
And learned – lots!
However, she didn’t achieve her stated goal. In short, she failed.
Yet the more we discussed her “failure,” the more it felt like a victory.
And yet there was no word to describe the success she had in the face of this loss.
So maybe, just maybe, it’s time to redefine the word.
Until we learn to celebrate the effort as much as or even more than the outcome we will continue to lose on some level.
This isn’t to say that we’ll never fail, but that we need a better definition of what it means (to us) … so it doesn’t stop us from truly succeeding.
A Few Tips on Failing Successfully
1. Keep the Bigger Goal in Mind – as the saying goes, life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon (hopefully an ultra), while you may not have met your immediate goal, it’s important to reflect on how the effort you’ve put in, e.g. your commitment, has added to the bigger goals (you do have bigger goals, right? If not, let’s talk) you have for your life. Take a broader view and also look at what you’ve learned and gained from the experience.
2. Celebrate the Wins – in his brilliant new book “The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide to Unshakable Performance,” Dr. Nate Zinsser discusses creating a “My Top Ten” list of accomplishments in your chosen field.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by our perceived failures, but that only tends to narrow our focus, whereas looking at the positive “broadens and builds” our capacity for more creative and innovative thinking and allows us to see the bigger picture and overall be more successful in our longer-term goals.
3. Redefine Success – related to the points above and the theme of the article, you get to define both success and failure in your life. Ask yourself, what helps you flourish and brings greater meaning and eudaimonia into your life. Take some time to get clear about what that is and what you want that to look like now and into the future. You’ll thank me later.
The Lighter Side of Failure
Are there any other subjects you want me to cover? Hit “Reply” and tell me!
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Andrea J. Miller
+1 (646) 556-5401 (Whatsapp)