Failure. The other f-word I don't like.
It doesn't feel good, can be super awkward, and usually leaves you wanting to just lie in the road. Right? Aside from being super humbling, failure can actually be good for you and your goals.
Wait! Don't go!
Failing at something- no matter how epic or small the fail-scale- can be huge for personal growth. If you let it, failure can actually spur creativity because it forces you to come up with a different approach to solving the problem at hand. Failure can give you the opportunity to try something new- the opportunity you didn't know you needed.
Of course, it's what happens after the failure that is really cool. When I say cool, I really mean tough, gritty, not Instagram worthy and plain ol' hard work. Because, yes, failure provides the opportunity at trying something again, but you have to do the work. It's the proverbial picking-yourself-up after failing that shows your tenacity. There are many ways to solve the problem in front of you, just remind yourself that through failing, you've eliminated a possible solution and move on.
With that, there are 3 times when it's okay to fail. Not just okay, actually, but great! In these instances, failing is a natural step in the growth and development process and can teach you a lot about how far you can go.
3 Times It's Okay to Fail
- When you try something brand new.
Learning a new hobby, developing a new skill or trying out a new language gives us ample opportunities to fail. Why wouldn't it? It's a brand new experience for us! As frustrating as it is to be a beginner at any stage of our lives, eventually- through trial and error- we learn what works and what doesn't. When I was learning to clip my shoes into my pedals, I fell over 99% of the time... still clipped in to my bike. I looked kind of like a turtle on it's back... in lycra. Fail. But I eventually tried using my OTHER foot to un-clip and voila! I didn't fall over (as much, anymore). Success.
- Working out at the gym.
Muscle failure. It hurts so good because your muscles are working to their full ability. Once you work them to this threshold, they let you know they're done and can do no more. This is when the magic happens and you build strength. I know this from working with coaches and trainers for years and years, and won't get into the science of it here. **Note this doesn't mean collapsing on the treadmill because you're not listening to your body. It does mean getting the muscle group your working on to experience muscle failure by targeting it with controlled exercises.
- Making a "big ask."
I saved this one for last because it scares me the most. Yesterday I reached out and asked for something I really want, because if I can't do this myself, why should I encourage you to do it? I lost nothing by asking, and even though it was not 100% the answer I wanted, I'm confident. My husband and I knew a woman who was the epitome of this- she got friends into sold-out shows, talked with fascinating people, had these really incredible experiences all because she made "big asks" all the time.
Think about this the next time you fail. If you failed and it didn't bother you, ask yourself why you tried whatever it was. Were you just checking off an item on your "should-be-a-goal" list? I've found that when you fail, you're provided with a little bit of clarity about what you really want.
Want more? Here's JK Rowling's TED Talk about failure: The Fringe Benefits of Failure. Take 20 minutes this afternoon to watch it- she may give you a new perspective on the topic.