A few weeks ago, I wrote about how much failure can hurt.
And why trying again — despite the burn — is so important.
We’re human, so we don’t love admitting we’ve failed. And we live in a culture that celebrates slaying and winning.
That’s why it’s important we talk about the under-rated benefits of FAILING.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
When we fail, we learn. When we learn, we are winning in real time.
3 things failure can teach us.
1- Failure teaches us what doesn’t work.
There’s no shortage of advice about what ‘works’ and you can learn lots from others’ past experience. While you can avoid repeating other people’s (really BIG) mistakes, you’ll still have to make some of your own. Because every person and circumstance is different, and the same action may net different results. You are your own person. What works for someone else may not work for you. What works for you may not work for someone else. You can’t know for sure until you try — that comes with the risk of failure, and the guarantee of learning.
2- Failure teaches us our limits.
Sometimes we try something and it just doesn’t feel good. We try a marketing tactic and it feels inauthentic. We pay for a plan we simply can’t execute. We’re dying to skydive, take all the training, get up in the air and…nope, what was I thinking? It’s important to step out of your comfort zone, try something new, face your fears. But it’s also important to learn our limitations, listen to our gut, and respect our own unshakeable values.
3- Failure teaches us resilience.
The sheer act of failing builds resilience, like that torn muscle that rebuilds itself stronger. Failing slams us with a whole host of feelings that we have no choice but to live with, think about, and get over. We might discover that ‘the fail’ wasn’t as bad as anticipated. That it didn’t hurt that much. That it wasn’t even that big a deal. It might even serve up a needed dose of humility. And add fuel to our drive to succeed.
When parents watch their baby take those very first steps, they cheer every single attempt. They don’t rebuke the tot for stumbling. Babies get bumps and bruises while they’re learning to walk and we don’t wrap them in bubble wrap to avoid those scrapes. We let them try even though we know that with trying comes stumbling.
Our businesses are no different. We have to try new things. We have to allow for growth and sometimes there are growing pains that come along with the territory.