Failing at something isn’t pleasant, is it? In fact, it’s something we often avoid at all costs. I’ve done it, and I’m sure you’ve done it. We don’t want to disappoint ourselves or others. While understandable, that attitude can be a big mistake though, because failing at something is the quickest way to learn. Don’t believe me? Think back to your early childhood.
When we are young, we are expected to fail. None of us stood up one day and walked across the room. Instead, we pulled ourselves up, wobbled for a moment, and then fell down. After some practice (and many more failures), we took that first step. And promptly fell down. We failed at walking again and again. And in the process we learned to control our bodies, find our balance, and eventually figure out the surprisingly complex process of walking across a room.
We do a lot of learning when we are young and failure is expected. It’s part of the process. You wouldn’t expect a third grader to write a perfect essay. You wouldn’t expect a kindergartener to spell their full name. When children make mistakes, we encourage them. We point them in the right direction. We cheer them on, ask them to try again. And again. And again. In other words we – and they with us – embrace their failure.
Somewhere along the way, failure starts to take on a negative connotation. Instead of using failures and mistakes as learning experiences, we start to expect instant success from ourselves. Failure is no longer an option. It’s not acceptable and instead of something to be proud of and celebrate, we hide our failures.
Even worse, we do what we can to play it safe. We don’t try something new unless we’ve done everything possible to ensure our success. Sometimes that means months and months of research. Sometimes it means secretly practicing until we get it just right. All of which takes a lot of time and effort. That in itself is not a bad thing, but what if you spend months learning as much as you can about going into business for yourself, only to find out two weeks in that you hate it? Wouldn’t it have been much faster to jump in and find this out right away?
If you want to continue to grow as a person and develop a growth mindset, start looking for opportunities to fail. Try something and be ready to be horrible at it. Guess what. You’ll learn from the experience. And you’ll learn quicker and more than you could from all the research or studying you could do. Embrace failures and see them for what they are – the fastest path toward mastering any new skill.