Failure is the cornerstone of success
You know that horrible, sinking feeling you get whenever you discover yourself to be the author of a royal cock-up? Courtesy of biology, it’s there to prevent you from suffering the consequences of the error by any means necessary – which has an annoying tendency to lead to a rich dispersion of blame in all directions but oneself.
Here’s a shocker: in modern society, it’s hardly doing you any good.
In fact, being ones own best critic is an invaluable opportunity – although it requires one to be able to look squarely in the mirror and recognize a failure for exactly what it is. In doing so, you gain the opportunity of realizing that making an error, despite the short-term ramifications involved, is not an entirely negative experience.
It is, in fact, is the perfect opposite.
From birth, we all approach life in much the same way: we try, we fail and then we repeat the process. Some members of the primate family appear to possess better stamina than others , but a key element to consider is that a fear of do-overs or even initial attempts will hold you back from experiences and achievements that you would otherwise have come to cherish – brutal though the path may feel at times.
It is important, however, not to stray from the path of constructivity when dispersing criticism, as many of us will be prone to do. Assuming responsibility for a failure presents a perfect opportunity for introspection, but being objective to the point of constructivity in situations where oneself and failure intertwine can – to say the least – prove challenging.
Put simply: when beating yourself up, do it with graceful balance.
In my experience, the best approach to redeeming failure is a little thing called self irony – that is, the ability to laugh at ones own mistakes. Not only serving as possibly the most effective disarmament of others’ schadenfreude, it also lets you avoid erroneously categorizing something as a shameful error that you would like nothing more than to bury in a mental compost pile for eternity.
Through applying self irony, however, the usual mechanisms connected to shame and subsequent repression are disturbed sufficiently for high-level thinking to commandeer the situation as opposed to handing the wheel to the lizard brain. Then – with a bit of practice – you will be able to wrangle a failure into becoming a stepping stone towards a future success.
Of course, I could be completely wrong – but at least there’s a good chance I’ll get the pleasure of learning something (and, quite possibly, a good laugh) from it. And I wouldn’t want to be without it.
What’s your thoughts on the topic? Have at it in the comments, handsome.