Framing Failure

I’m going to lay it all out there – one of my greatest fears is the fear of failure. Words cannot express the gut-wrenching feeling I experience deep in my core when I perceive that I have disappointed someone or missed the mark on a task or made a mistake. It’s borderline soul-crushing for me. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Something I am working on internally is the way I view failure. Failure can either inhibit you or it can fuel a fire to do better, be better, next time. Failure can be negative, or it can be positive. For my whole life, I have seen failure as this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, thing. But I learned it doesn’t have to be.

Recently my boss was discussing the concepts of success and failure. What defines them, what makes them good or bad? In this conversation, I realized that it all has to do with frame of reference: where you are, where you’re coming from, and where you’re looking to go. There are no hard rules for what is a success and what is a failure. Then she said a magic word: opportunity. Something doesn’t have to be thought of as a failure. Instead, it can be an obstacle with an opportunity to overcome it. This was a major lightbulb-over-the-head moment for me. I don’t have to FAIL like I think of failing, a be-all-end-all. I can fail; I can hit an obstacle and look for the opportunity to overcome that obstacle.

This mini life lesson from the mouth of my boss is going to stick with me. When I feel like I‘ve failed, I plan on making a conscious effort to find the opportunity. To look forward, move on, let go. I currently struggle with that. But if I actively engage my mind and heart, maybe I can be better next time.

What are your biggest fears? What are you doing to overcome them? Sound off in the comments below!

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