When did we become to critical of failure? Why are we so quick to focus on blame rather than learning outcomes? Blame culture creates fragility, we can become so brittle and afraid to try in case we are criticised by others that we seek to protect ourselves by getting in there with the self criticism first.
Not so long ago we were more open to the idea failure being part of the path to success, familiar with the notion of the "eccentric Englishman" inventing things in his shed, playing down the risks to life and limb from the odd small explosion or out of control contraption!
Sir Joseph Swan didn't just wake up one day and make a lightbulb. He probably tried a range of different filaments and burned his fingers a couple of times before it worked. John Boyd Dunlop probably had a few slow punctures in inventing the pneumatic tyre and, closer to home, Yorkshireman Percy Shaw iterated his design for the Cats Eye several times before he perfected it.
Failure is essential to growth. We cannot succeed first time every time we try something new. Growth means working at the outer edges of our capabilities so by it's very nature growth is challenging. If we stay well within our comfort zones we never grow. As often quoted, an infant falls many times when learning to walk but keeps on giving it another go until off they toddle.
There is something to be said for failing fast but perhaps the phrase is just shorthand for 'make sure you step back and give it an objective look, pick out the lessons and learn them quickly'? Dogged pursuit of a an objective while refusing to learn clear lessons because it's not what you want to hear isn't going to lead to a good place.
Perhaps it's time to shift our mindset and culture away from the heavily filtered social media image we are so desperate to portray? Let's move towards expecting and encouraging failure as part of working towards something new. If you think it's time then here are not one but two challenges for you today;
About the Author
Rachel Ferla is a Digital Skills and Productivity Coach with over 15 years experience as a project manager juggling multiple projects.