What we learn from coming up short

Reflections on Failure

jetski fail

By definition, failure represents something other than the desired outcome and, in a culture that puts success above all else, it is often looked down upon or ignored altogether. In reality, __failure is common (read: completely normal) and offers much to learn from. By handling failure appropriately we can take these experiences as opportunities to grow rather than something to be ashamed of.

Here are 3 ideas to change the way you think about failure:

Failure is normal

Failure is a function of goal setting that serves to motivate and us improve. Using goals and milestones allows you to track progress in a motivating and informative way. The best goals are crafted with two possible outcomes, either success or failure. This way we can learn from what went right in the case of success and what went wrong in the event of failure.

Appropriate goal setting is a central theme here at ReCreate. The most important thing is to recognize that goals are nothing more than tools used to monitor and guide progression. The likeliest indicator of failure is how difficult a particular goal is. We most often recommend setting goals that are within reach but require you to push yourself, meaning that success should not be guaranteed.

There is no shame in failing at something if you know from the start that it's one of two possible outcomes. By shifting towards a growth mindset, failure only it exists so that we can learn from it and move forward.

The worst thing failure can do is undermine motivation

There are 3 possible outcomes from a failure. You can either bounce back, reassess your goals, or allow it to demoralize. Sometimes a failure can re-ignite determination to achieve a goal, and other times you will realize that a particular goal may not be right for you.

Disappointment is perfectly normal after a failure, but when you allow a failure to demoralize it can cripple your motivation for future action. Remember, failure is the result of reaching for goals that are designed to help us push ourselves and serves as an opportunity to reassess and learn from. Failure is NOT a reflection of your value or worth. Ultimately, you have nothing that you need to prove.

I recently participated in an mountain bike race across Georgia. 90 miles into the 350 mile course I decided to pack it in and end my race. I had been dealing with some health issues going into the race and realized early on that I was not as recovered as I had hoped to be. While I had really hoped to go further, the experience allowed me to reassess some of my goals and moving forward I am focused solely on my health with no aspirations to race ultras for the time being. Rather than focusing on the past it's important to think forward.

Failure should be talked about openly

There are few things as difficult or sensitive to discuss as failure. Simply acknowledging it can sting, but the reality is that failures provide the best examples from which we can learn. By embracing a culture of shame surrounding failure we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn and grow from these experiences.

Instead, we should embrace failure as experiences to learn from. By speaking openly we help to remove stigma and shame associated with failure. It may feel uncomfortable at first but it becomes easier and easier with practice.

Everyone fails at something, often quite frequently. Speaking with others isn't just a reminder that failure is everywhere, but you may even hear from someone who has been in a similar situation. Many of our best insights and connections come from speaking with other people. Talking with other people can help to process and extract the positives from an experience.

That's all from me, I hope you were able to pull some insights into failing with grace. It's no fun but it happens, changing your mindset makes all the difference in the world.