The changing definition of failure

Yesterday we discussed how taking a positive approach to failure can lead to innovation and enhanced creativity.

When we as individuals and organizations change not only our definition but overall mindset around what failure is, we open ourselves up to taking more risks, seeking new connections, not getting bogged down in what we did wrong, but instead focusing on what we did well and can replicate.

Call it positive psychology, call it “looking for the bright spots”, call it “embracing failure” – the truth is the definition of failure is changing in a positive direction. 

What is your definition of failure?

I believe failure is neither black nor white, right nor wrong – but it can lead us closer to the truth, to deep learning experiences and to the insights that can help to create a more meaningful life.

Here is how my definition of failure shifted once I began taking Improvisation classes:

The old –  failure is often very personal. Just the word alone has a stigma associated with it, and often brings up feelings of shame. Failure causes an inward, closed-off response.

The new – a failure is only a true failure if there is nothing to be learned from the experience. When we aren’t punished for failing, we feel less fear to take risks, to seek out new learnings and to commit fully to whatever it is we are doing. Failure lifts us up instead of weighing us down.

Do you tend to see the positive, or the negative when you look at failure?

Tools including emotion regulation, mindfulness, and self leadership can help to moderate your relationship to failure.

What we know is, with most things – we have a choice.  We can work to strip the emotional (and often very personal) charge from a failure situation so that we view a “mistake” as a real gift.