At the recent Oprah session in Toronto, Tony Robbins questioned why we don't talk about failures. He observed that when people are asked why they fail, the common complaint is lack of resources -- not enough time, money, energy or technology. People blame resources as their excuse for failure. But he said "it's not the lack of resources that cause failure, it's the lack of resourcefulness that causes failure."
Now that is food for thought. How do you become resourceful and resilient? I think much depends on your attitude. Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty type of person? Is your inclination to give up at the first roadblock on your path? In my work with women entrepreneurs, my sense is that successful entrepreneurs are positive, risk-taking individuals, for whom failure is just not an option. They draw on their creativity to resolve problems and some even thrive when faced with challenges.
In her book The Secret of Successfully Failing, Gina Mollicote Long talks about failure as being feedback. You try something and it doesn't work, so hopefully you review the results and take it as an opportunity to learn some valuable lessons and do it differently next time. As Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed. I've found 10,000 ways that didn't work."
But so often we aren't able to put such a positive spin on our failures, especially at first. We question ourselves as to how we could be so stupid, and almost drown in a sea of our failures. Let's face it: none of us likes making mistakes.
I have to say, once I have gotten over my bruised pride and ego, I do try to step back and ask myself what lesson I was meant to learn from the experience. But it's not straight away. I need to do the brooding, the head-banging and often will hide away hoping people will forget the disaster or error of my ways.
What's that old saying -- that when you fall off a horse, you need to get back on straight away? That makes sense, because with time away, fear can fester in your mind and coming back becomes even harder. No one likes to lose face.
However, while we are all obsessed with what other people think, it's unlikely others are thinking of you, or making negative judgements. Contrary to your opinion, it isn't all about you. People have more than enough of their own stuff to concern themselves with, and sometimes when we reflect back and look at a situation clearly, we will see that this small hiccup is truly not that important in the scheme of things.
That's when it's time to move on. Make your apologies if necessary, note what went wrong so you don't repeat that particular mistake and get on to the next chapter of your life. Because trust me, there are other mistakes to be made and more challenging situations just around the corner. And like all aspects of life, all we can control is our attitude and how we react.
When we don't view failure as a disaster but as a learning tool, it does become easier to accept the lesson and grow professionally and personally. Keeping your sense of humour is key. Believe it or not, there may be a time when you look back and can laugh at your foibles.
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