Today’s reading has been brought to you by… an expert failer! Seriously, I could probably host my own weekend seminar. I could call it “How to Fail - Successfully.” But don’t sign up. I can‘t guarantee that it wouldn‘t be a huge flop! :) Besides no one I know would actually take such a course. No one sets out on anything with an intent to fail. No one posts even a single failure on their timeline. We just try to hide it, forget about it and move on. Except that big `F` word is stamped over our heart and for some of us, we know we will never truly be able to dream the same way again. In my 30 years I have dreamed big dreams. I have worked my butt off to get them. And I have failed miserably. Ever been there? Anyone feel me?
I used to wonder if some people were just smarter and better positioned for success. But I don’t anymore. And neither does John Medina, developmental molecular biologist, Director of Brain Center for Applied Learning Research and author of the New York Times Bestseller “Brain Rules.” He has something interesting to say about failing. He says, “the ONLY thing that sets apart highly successful individuals is their perception of and response to failure.” Webster’s dictionary defines perception as the ability to gain insight, awareness or intuition. The root of this word is shared by another great word - PERspective which is a way of regarding situations or facts and judging their relative importance. So according to John, it’s not a matter of the smarts we are born with or lack thereof that determines our success in life. But it has everything to do with how we view our failures.
In his book, Medina discusses studies that had been done on the brain patterns of some rather fascinating individuals including Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Henry Ford. He says that the most spectacular discovery was that there was actually nothing spectacular whatsoever. These hugely successful, almost phenomenal individuals just had some regular. old. brains. But despite their renowned successes in life, they were each quite familiar with failure. Check out some of their own words on it…
“I have not failed. I have just found 1000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison
“Failing isn’t bad when you get to learn what not to do.” Albert Einstein
“Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Henry Ford
In his book, Medina actually encourages parents to praise their children for their effort as opposed to their accomplishments which appeals to something they can control over something they cannot. He says, “children raised this way have a refreshing attitude toward failure. They do not ruminate over their mistakes. They simply perceive errors as problems to be solved and then they go to work. They believe that mistakes are caused by lack of effort not a lack in themselves.”
SO you’re thinking, okay fine. I need a change in perspective. How do I go about finding that?! This is where I might lose some of you… Gratitude. Yup! Suck it up. Get over your “woe is me” victim mentality and be grateful for each failure that you have the privilege to come up against . It is teaching you a valuable lesson that you MUST learn before you can move forward. If you don’t want to stay stuck where you are - where you’ve been all this time then brush off your knees and wipe the tears from you eyes so you can SEE things for what they really are. Failure is more than just a stepping stone. It is the only stone you can use to cross from where you are to where you want to be.
So friends… those of you who bother to keep up with my blogs… you already know my heart for you. I want your success as much as I want my own. I needed to read my own writing today. Please… Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop trying. And don’t stop failing! ;)