Accept failure with grace

If you want to lift a hundred pounds, you don’t expect to succeed the first time. You start with a lighter weight and work up little by little. You actually fail to lift a hundred pounds, every day, until the day you succeed. But it is in the days when you are exerting yourself that the growth is occurring.” – Dr Norman Doidge

Did you notice the part of the quote where Dr Doidge says, “You actually fail…. until the day you succeed.”

Somewhere in our lives, most of us are taught that failure is a bad thing.

How different would your life be today, if you knew that you had to fail before you succeeded?

How different would your life be today, if nobody warned you that you might fail when you were trying something new? Their intentions are good, of course, but what if they didn’t imprint that in your mind and cause you to doubt?

Imagine a mother saying to her baby who is just learning to walk, “You know, it’s an awfully long way to walk! You could end up on your bottom. Mommy doesn’t want you to get hurt! Maybe you should just take it easy and wait until you’re bigger and stronger.”

Instead of encouraging innovation and exploration – which by definition includes failures (and lots of them) – we unwittingly encourage each other to stay in our comfort zones.

And so, we learn to fear failure. We certainly don’t want the stigma. We don’t want to be punished with the bad feelings of disappointment, regret, shame or defeat.

Without failure, though, we wouldn’t grow. We learn far less from our triumphs than we do from our faceplants.

Going back to Dr Doidge’s statement… You need failure in order to build the strength and master the skills.

Besides, how can you possibly be failing if you’re learning from the situation and if you’re acquiring skills and knowledge? It’s impossible! You simply cannot fail, if you learn how not to do something. You cannot fail, if you open your eyes to a better approach.

Look at anything you’ve learned and achieved so far in your life. How much of it did you get right the first time? Hardly anything! Mostly you failed – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot – until the day the light bulb went on and you figured it out.

Looking back, you probably laugh at your past ‘failures’ even though at the time, they probably stung your ego while you sat on the floor wondering what the heck just happened.

But here you are. You tried. You made mistakes. You learned. You rehearsed until you got it right. You built your strength and your stamina. You mastered your mind. You figured out what works and what doesn’t. Therefore you are not a failure.

The only true failure is if you fail to learn.

If you approach life with the right mindset, you’ll never stay down for long no matter what surprises you encounter. The process of learning and growth isn’t always easy but you know that the bigger the challenges, the sweeter the rewards.

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