In a previous post I spoke about how we celebrate failure at Deep Red Ink. Steve Case left a comment on this post, saying he can see the value of learning from failure, but *loving* failure, perhaps seemed a bit too much.
Steve’s comment inspired me to write about celebrating, no, loving failure. So here it is.
Failure is often, maybe too often, seen as undesirable, and rejected. We design our organizations so that failure is eliminated. I think it is counterproductive how much we, as a collective, detest failure!
Failure is a learning opportunity
Many of us think this way. We each need to test for ourselves how well we are able to learn.
The trap in viewing failure this way is that it is rationalized as a learning opportunity. It seems to me that this rationalization serves to avoid the negative emotions that go with failure. A sure sign of a rationalizing company (or person) is one that seems to believe that failure is a learning opportunity, but repeats the same failures again and again.
We’ve failed to fail well
Our inability to learn from failure comes about because, I think, we have “failed” to honor failure as a valid human experience, just as we honor success.
We validate success and the feelings that arise from success. By the same measure, we utterly invalidate and dishonor failure by rejecting or rationalizing the feelings it brings.
How is it possible to learn from failure, when we are so intolerant of it?
Tony said it simply
I am inspired by something, I believe, Tony Robbins said –
There are no failures. only actions and outcomes. If you don’t like the outcome, choose different actions.
I believe loving failure is possible and even necessary.
To love something is to engage with it, to see how it is beautiful just the way it is. Seeing beauty in something reveals its purpose. And it is in seeing the purpose of failure, we truly see the gifts that it brings us. Only when we have received its gifts, do we experience a profound appreciation and acceptance for failure.
While I have a strong viewpoint on this, I acknowledge that I find engaging fully with failure is a difficult task, one that I (and most people) have been ill-equipped by life to handle. Modern education and societal beliefs largely lack the philosophical foundations that allow us to have an expanded view of life, a view that allows us to see success and failure are equals.
My only caution is that we do not call this expanded view of life idealistic or impractical, only because we don’t know how to have it.
It is my constant striving to give myself this expanded worldview, and bring it to life in the organization that I am building with my partners.
One process that helped me expand
Is to ask myself, why is this failure good for me, and come up with as many answers as I can. It’s surprising how many answers there can be!
I once came up with fifty reasons why a failure was good for me. Once I got past the first few answers (those are always difficult), I experienced my skepticism turn into amazement, then into acceptance, and finally i into gratitude for the failure. In this state of gratitude, I realized that I valued this failure deeply, and was ready to receive its gifts.
This process is inspired by Dr. John DeMartini’s Breakthrough Experience. If you have not heard of this brilliant, brilliant man, I highly recommend his work.
Start a conversation
If you resonate with my thoughts or see things another way, please comment. I hope to engage in conversation that will be clarifying and enriching for both of us.