What if failure was neutral and you could actually attach whatever meaning you’d like to it?
It could mean something negative, like "…I wasn’t good enough", or it could mean something positive, like "…that is just one more way I discovered NOT to do something."
There is a big difference between those two, huh?
The negative one makes me feel terrible and unmotivated.
The positive one makes me feel curious and willing to try again.
My husband is unemployed and went through a rough period of thinking he had failed. I watched him spiral downward as he felt all the negative emotions of "not being good enough". He would say things like, "No one will hire me." "I might have to flip pizza dough." "I’m going to have to start at the bottom again and work my way up!" And all because unemployment = failure.
I have also been dealing with failure recently. I yelled at my daughter yesterday because she kept interrupting me over and over when I was on the phone. That sure felt like a parenting fail. Or when I set time aside to vision cast for my business, only to allow myself to be distracted by Facebook and dirty laundry…yep, that felt like failure too.
But the difference between now and a year ago…I know how to rise above failure. I still fail. In fact, I EXPECT to fail. But I don’t let it bring me down. I don’t let it overtake my emotions and actions. I don’t let it stop me from moving forward.
I have started to assign new meaning to failure:
Failure means growth.
Failure means clarity.
Failure means I AM HUMAN.
Those definitions of failure feel positive. Those feel like emotions and thoughts that propel me.
I want to be someone that fails! (To even say that feels mind boggling, considering how far I have come over the last year in my relationship to failure). But what I have come to learn is that failure is just practice for success.
With this new meaning I find I am less bogged down in details. I make quicker decisions. My mind is clearer. I worry less what others think. I am curious with myself. I ask better questions and I am simply happier.
I still have a long way to go to undo the "failure = I’m not good enough" wiring but I can sense my brain rewiring as we speak. Life is about the journey, right?
Will you join me in rewriting your definition of failure? What new meaning would you like to ascribe to it?