Learning Opportunity

There is no such thing as failure. Really! You see, most people have been programmed to be afraid of failure. But “failure,” more than anything else, is an attitude. And while attitudes are based on beliefs, most of our beliefs are based on the past – and a version of the past, at that.

All of us can remember times when we didn’t get the results we wanted. We flunked a test, or put together a business plan that didn’t work, or got involved in a romance that turned sour. However, successful people don’t think in terms of failure. They think in terms of results they can learn from. If they try something and it doesn’t work out, they figure they have had a helpful learning experience, and they take new actions to get new results.

Think about it. What is the one asset, the one benefit you have today that you didn’t have in the past? Experience. It is the one thing you have today, that you didn’t have yesterday. Whether you see the experience as positive or negative is all in how you look at it.

Maybe you are afraid of failure, but how do you feel about learning? Fear of failure can stop you before you start. It can stop you from taking the risks you need to take in order to grow. If you redefine failure as learning, as important feedback, there is no longer anything to fear.

There was an article in the Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal some time ago that posited that by demanding students be “perfect” by getting top grades, and punishing wrong answers with failing grades, we are robbing students of valuable learning experiences. Most people will admit that they learn more from failures than they do from “challenge-free” success. They also remember more.

As a familiar example, Edison tried thousands of different materials before he found the right filament for the electric light bulb. When asked why he didn’t quit, he said, “Why should I? I now know 2,000 things that don’t work!” If you look at your experiences the way Edison did, you are much more likely to achieve success.