When I was younger, I started a graphic design business. I knew very little about starting up a business and even less about how to effectively market it. One thing led to another and it wasn't long before I had to close the business. For a long time, I perceived this as a failure and let it hold me back. Then one day, I was watching a friend with her baby daughter. The little girl was just beginning to walk.
She fell down almost as many times as she took steps, but she kept at it. You could see the determination and joy in her face each time she took another small step. Occasionally tears accompanied a hard fall, but once they dried she was pulling herself up and trying again. What I loved most about watching this child was that she had no fear of failing. Unfortunately, as we get older we learn that failure is a bad thing. In a society that values success, failure becomes something we fear.
And yet, we cannot avoid failure. It's a fact of life that we will stumble and fall on our butts. What really matters is what we do next.
Here are a few ideas you might consider if you face a failure: Think of a previous time you felt you failed and remember what you did to recover. Sometimes our past is our best friend. It can remind us that we have survived difficult times before and moved on. Recognizing that our past failures were transitory, makes it's easier to believe that this time too will pass.
Write down the positive things you've learned about what happened. This is one way to reframe what may feel like a catastrophe. It helps you avoid getting caught up in the paralyzing effect of failure and focus on what you can learn from the situation. Try not to make this a list of all the mistakes you made, but instead list all the things you've discovered from the experience.
For example, you might ask yourself the following questions: What did I learn about myself and how might this experience help me in the future? Ask yourself what you fear about the failure. Write your fears down on paper or tell someone about them. By putting the fear outside you and verbalizing it, you take away its punch. It's like going through a dark scary house and turning on the lights.
Suddenly, what looked like a monster becomes just a chair full of clothes. Focus on your strengths and use them to help you at this time. Make a list of your strengths and ask which ones you can use to pull yourself back to your feet.
To help you discover your strengths,consider taking the VIA Strengths Inventory offered free at www.authentichappiness.com.
Look at your top ten strengths and see if any of these might help you. For example, when I'm struggling with a failure, I use perseverance, courage and humor to help me get going again. In truth, even if you do all of the above, you'll still make mistakes and stumble. It's part of process of growing.
Sometimes the fall may hurt and you may cry from the pain. If this happens, just like the little girl learning to walk, you can pull yourself back up and try again.
Sara Healy is a life coach who helps people with life and career transitions using their strengths and values. Find out how she can help you make positive changes in your life by contacting her at: http://www.sarahealy.com