“The Greatest Teacher, failure is.”
-Master Yoda, The last Jedi.
Let me confess, I’m a Star wars fan. The quote above is from a Star Wars movie. With that out of the way, we can begin. Many goals remain unaccomplished because someone refused to try again after they had failed. Crushing failure can stop someone from trying again. Yet the only way to achieve success is to try again. That seems almost like a paradox.
Nobody likes to fail. Some people are afraid to fail. Failure can be very depressing especially if you put in a lot of hard work. I acknowledge all these things about failure. Yet to allow failure to be the factor that sets the limit on what you can achieve is to develop a closed mindset.
A closed mindset is one that says I cannot do it because I am stupid. It is one that believes other people are successful because they were born supremely talented. Meanwhile, I am not as talented so I will not try because I will fail and people will laugh at me. That is not the kind of mindset you want to have. It is not the mindset productive people have.
“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure”
-John C. Maxwell
What you should strive for is the growth mindset. One that acknowledges, my goal may be hard but if I apply myself I can learn the skills I need to help me achieve them. A growth mindset is one that asks for help along the way because you accept you don’t know it all but are willing to learn so you can improve. It is the mindset that lets you fall forward. When a person with a growth mindset fails, they take a deep breath, compartmentalise their feelings and try to learn from it. They are the people who say “I now know what not to do next time.”
This can be difficult to acknowledge and accept so I will spell it out clearly here. As long as you intend to start something worth doing, at some point, you are going to fail. You will screw up. To be productive, you must give yourself permission to fail and take responsibility for failure. You must allow yourself to learn from your mistakes. It’s the only way to get better.
So the next time you find yourself like Luke Skywalker who should be old enough to know better (another Star Wars reference, sorry), remind yourself that failure should be seen as a learning opportunity. The true test of strength is not measured by how far we rise but by how many times we can rise after falling.