By Mia Casey
Why don’t we try new things? Answer: fear. Fear of judgement, of ridicule, of disappointment – but mostly, fear of failure. If failure lost its negative connotations, what could we achieve?
I recently watched this video of Sara Blakely talking about redefining what it means to fail:
She talks about how her father would be actively disappointed when she had not failed at anything. Rather than coming into the conversation with the mindset of minimising the effect of failure (“It’s okay, you’ll do better next time!”), he taught her to celebrate these failures.
In a career context, this mindset may seem daunting. It lends itself to the all-or-nothing ideals of taking big risks, and throwing everything away to start anew. I know for me at least, I’d want a back up plan (or ten). So how can we utilise this mindset on a day-to-day basis?
Remember, failure is not the end
A lot of us have this idea that once you try, and then fail at something, that’s the end of it. Rather than taking a different approach and trying again, we simply shrug: “Well, I tried!”. This is the sort of mentality that hinders creativity and sets the really successful people apart.
If you want something, don’t tell yourself that your failure is based on some inherent lack of ability. Instead, think about what went wrong and why. Breaking an experience down and determining what you could do differently can help you regroup and try again.
Maybe it’s a passion project you’ve been thinking about taking on, but as you begin you realise you don’t have a certain skill needed for it to succeed? Perfect opportunity to network! Like Blakely says in the video, you want to be looking for the ‘hidden gifts’ within these experiences.
Don’t take it as a sign
If your plans go awry, don’t take it as a sign that you’re simply not meant to succeed. Failure just means you tried approaching the situation in one way, learnt from it, and now you need to try another. Telling yourself that you’re destined to fail is not only unhelpful negative self-talk, but also frames ‘failure’ in such a way as to eliminate any benefits it may bring.
The likelihood of some cosmic entity stopping you from trying something new, seems a little less likely than you just needing to try another approach!
Take it as an opportunity
Like I said before, failure doesn’t mean your dream is over. It just means you get to try something new. Take advantage of this! If you’re trying to turn your hobby into a business but can’t get your head around marketing, take an online course and gain a new skill, or network and build new relationships.
As a student, not letting fear of failure hold you back can be super beneficial. Is there a society you want to be a part of? A competition you want to apply for? Or even someone in your class you’d like to get to know? Give it a shot! Not only could you build new skills, get recognition for your abilities, or form lasting relationships – but all of these things could help you in your career!
Employers often encourage creativity, problem solving and initiative: all of which are greatly hindered by a fear of trying something new. By redefining how you think of failure, you can develop some really sort-after skills (and great examples to use in interviews!).
By cutting yourself off from new opportunities simply because you’re afraid you might not succeed, you’re also stopping yourself from succeeding. You can’t do one without the other. So don’t be afraid to fail – be excited to!
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.