January 18th, 2009 4:17 PM by Lehel Szucs
The Joy of Failure -- Build Your Support Network For Happiness & Success By Doris Helge, Ph.D.
What if you knew no one would slice off your right leg if you made a big mistake? What if you were rewarded for the courage and confidence to fail?
I want to introduce you to the one person who can give you this gift. I also want to help you surround yourself with group support during this personal growth process. First, let's make sure we're on the same page.
Failure is a secret ingredient in the recipe for success. Great parents discover how to help a child thrive because they have the courage to blunder over and over until they learn more about their little one's temperament and needs. In the process, they establish a loving relationship that lasts for a lifetime. In fact, most kids eventually provide partial care for their parents.
What about screwed-up romantic relationships and friendships? My consistent relationship disasters were the key that unlocked the door to a loving partnership that, during the past 12 years, has amazed me with growing love and trust. A series of painful experiences in which I felt like a victim showed me just how much I didn't love myself. Other people were mirroring my lack of self-respect back to me. I began healing the one relationship that was holding me back -- my relationship with myself. I stopped fretting about why other people didn't like or respect me and focused on accepting my warts. Like a miracle, connections with other people became fun and rewarding.
I learned to trust the process of my life -- especially when it made no sense to me. When I began celebrating every mistake, the journey from "Oh, poor me" to "Wow! I can be a fully empowered woman and help other people" became much easier and faster.
Mistakes are also essential in the business world. Post-it notes, penicillin, and vulcanized rubber were all created by mistake. Employees who play it safe instead of taking healthy risks are usually initially rewarded for conformity. However, they're eventually passed over when it's promotion time. Steady Freddy and Betty aren't considered innovative enough for leadership positions. It's impossible to stand out when you're struggling to do what everyone else does.
What if Oprah had worried more often about what people would think if her flamboyant ideas flopped? Even though she had been told over and over, "You're not the type of person people want to listen to," Oprah kept following her passion until she became the empowered woman you see today.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORT
When I coach client teams and Mastermind Groups, we applaud our "Hall of Shame" because participants had the courage to take healthy risks. We celebrate every mistake because we know life is a giant school, and the road to success is not a straight line.
Like medical students, we eagerly dissect what we laughingly call "courage cadavers" to discover why a specific adventure failed. Without this knowledge, we couldn't turn a fiasco into a major success.
Our openness with each other helps everyone. We bond with tears and laughter. We also save each other heartaches and time. None of us have time to make every possible mistake, so participants learn from each other's failures. During our Mastermind Calls, anyone who wants to jump into "The Seat of Honor" shares what they've learned as the rest of the group listens attentively. Those of us who've had a similar problem avoid repeating it because we view the experience from a new perspective. Participants who haven't yet faced the dilemma avoid it.
If you aren't yet connected with a great group of people who support you, reach out now. Identify new, objective people who will help you transform your mistakes into successes. Make sure your new friends understand the power of healthy risk taking. Friends and family may appear to have your best interests at heart, but they're not objective and your personal growth can make them antsy. Why? When we change, we mirror to others how their lives could be different. Most people resist change, even when it's clearly to their advantage. Friends and family have a picture of who you are. It's probably an outdated photo. They may UNconsciously prefer hanging out with an unhappy version of you because it's familiar and doesn't push their buttons.
PRACTICE BEING PERFECTLY IMPERFECT
Give it a go right now. Use your non-dominant hand to write a letter or throw a ball.
Notice that you don't expect a perfect performance when you engage in an activity for which you have no natural aptitude. Observe how easily you can excuse ordinary or poor accomplishment.
This simple exercise can help you squelch your tendency to judge your efforts harshly.
Give yourself permission to be as flawed as the rest of us. Each time you make a mistake, learn something valuable. Then redirect your efforts in a positive direction.
A very dear friend told me when she was dying that she had no regrets about her mistakes. Her body was fading rapidly, but her blue eyes were clear and bright. I was honored to hold her hand as she whispered, "Live with passion. It's better to regret what you've done than what you never tried to accomplish."
How about you? Are you failing enough to be successful? About the Author:
Doris Helge, Ph.D. is "The Joy Coach" and author of "Transforming Pain Into Power," now published in many languages. She also hosts the syndicated radio show "The More Joy on the Job Radio Show." Go here to learn more.