Leaning Into Failure: A chance to learn
When you hear the word ‘failure’, what do you feel? Do you feel a sense of dread? Or are you optimistic about failure? How we feel about failure is dependent upon a whole range of different experiences and beliefs that have shaped our perspective toward failure. Becoming failure blind is perhaps one of the greatest risks we can fall prey to. Leaning into failure is how we ensure that we don't become failure blind.
Becoming Failure Blind
If becoming failure blind is one of the greatest risks of doing anything, what does it actually mean? Failure blind is when we just accept failure without questioning, analysing, and debriefing it. Sure, failure is inevitable, but it is what we do with and how we respond to failure that will either make us failure blind or someone who leans into failure to learn. The results are immensely different. Each failure is riddled with lessons, and it sounds cliché, but for those who really lean into failure as a teacher know that this is no cliché!
In saying that, failure could possibly be the hardest thing as humans that we can face head-on. Facing our failure requires us to stare our shortcomings in the eye, level with them, and choose how we will respond. That is incredibly difficult and a huge feat! Being able to face our failure ultimately is the definition of success. If you can look your failure in the eye and see the lessons and take them on board, you have already won.
You cannot want success but be unwilling to fail, that is a simple fact. So, to ensure that you don’t become failure blind the first step is to fail. The second step is to acknowledge that you’ve failed, and the third step is to sit with trusted people and discuss the failure to ensure that next time, you find success or at least get further than the last time. Ask yourself, “am I really willing to face my failures?” and be honest! That answer will tell you a lot about where you need to go from here.
Why Do We Fail?
There are endless factors as to why we fail, but here are some of the most common. The first is because we become followers, blind followers. Not everyone is out there pursuing greatness and change for a better world. So when we just follow blindly, we end up following dead-end people and end up failing because we weren’t even aware we were walking behind these people! Standing alone and going against the grain these days is a challenging task and most have to conquer big fears to be able to do it. Fear is a huge factor in failure.
Another reason that we fail is that discipline is a foreign idea. It can often feel like we are being disciplined but we are doing menial tasks or multitasking which is lowering our total productivity and taking the focus off of what we really need to be chasing. A lack of discipline can cause failure in so many areas. The third biggest reason for failure is a lack of confidence in ourselves and low self-esteem. Doubt is a fearless killer of success that holds us captive to the shame of failure!
Another reason that we fail is that we simply don’t learn from our mistakes and so we make the same mistake over and over and never get anywhere. This is a dangerous trap to fall into and the key to getting out of this repetitive rut of failure is awareness! If you’re not getting anywhere, you should be asking yourself some serious questions! This last reason can feel like an attack on many people, but not taking responsibility for the things that happen in our lives is a huge cause of failure. While we may not be the cause of all the things that happen in our lives, we are responsible for it all; for how we respond, react, and what we do with what has landed in our lap. There are many more reasons that we fail but these are some of the most common reasons and the ones we should be looking out for closely.
How Do We Lean into Failure?
Well, leaning into failure firstly requires acceptance that we failed. Without doing this part, we are more likely to place the blame on external factors. Which won’t get us anywhere. Accept that you’ve failed and that it’s not the end of the world! Failure has the tendency to convince us that we are failures. It is essential that we learn to separate ourselves from failure. Yes, our actions may have caused the failure, but the failure isn’t us or a reflection of our value and worth. That is the first step.
The second step to leaning into failure is debriefing, which is when a team comes together to discuss the task that went before, honestly assess where things went wrong and create practices that ensure that failure doesn’t occur in the same places as last time. Debriefing was developed by fighter pilots over 60 years ago and the same structure remains unchanged due to its effectiveness. In a debrief, the three Rs should be covered, which are: Result, Reason, and Response. Result is the gap between the current result and the planned objective. Reason is the reason for the gap that occurred. And response is what will be put in place to reduce this gap next time.
It sounds simple, but in actuality, debriefing can be really challenging. To debrief properly and to truly get to the root cause of the result, requires a collective culture of openness, honesty, and learning. Debriefing should expose the truth in a respectful way, and it can be ego-bruising. The honest and respectful nature of debriefing is contagious and will spread through the entire culture well beyond being just confined to debriefing. Debriefing is leaning into failure. Debriefing is learning and learning is success.
Moving Toward Success Together
The most important thing to remember is that you are not your failures and that failures are just a chance to learn! Let’s go back to the question at the start, what does the word ‘failure’ make you feel? Has that changed? Do you feel a bit more optimistic knowing new truths about failure? If not, that’s okay, it’s a process! Find people and teams that you can begin to implement debriefing into to collectively move towards success together! Leaning into failure sets you up for success.
Interested in more information on debriefing, click ‘here'!
Hey! You’re Biased! – #29 The Just-World Hypothesis
Why do we believe that we deserve what we get? It is because many believe that the world is fair and that moral standings determine the positive or negative outcome we experience. This causes us to believe that if we do good, we will get good. And that if we do bad, we will be punished for it. However, anyone who has experienced any unfortunate event will know that life just isn't fair, and sometimes bad things happen to good people and vice versa.
Khadake, O. (2020). Failure in life – 6 reasons for why we fail (how to overcome them). Indies Education. https://indieseducation.com/failure-in-life-reasons-why-fail/