Failure. Who likes things going wrong? Not us. But at last night's STEP UP//WORK LAB launch Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare, was asked for her best experience as an entrepreneur. "The failures," she said, "because they allow be to learn and come back bigger, better and smarter than before."
We all attempt things at work that we aren’t able to pull off. We make mistakes. We take a wrong turn. Work is pitted with ups and downs, but failure needn’t be a dirty word. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger; it’s a cliché but it’s true. Knit one, purl one: risk and failure are interlinked loops on the same piece of knitting. A successful career woman needs to be able to look failure in the mouth and not be scared of a bite. Failing is a process: it’s a journey from idea, via risk assessment, through action and eventually to the dreaded faux pas. Yes you have failed; your ego is wounded, but you have grown a little stronger and more Confident by just riding that wave.
At TechHub, the global tech start-up community, they hold Start Up Funerals: celebrations of failure at which a proper ceremony is held to commemorate the failure of a project or idea. The congregation wears black, there are flowers but most importantly attendees get up and talk about what went wrong. The ceremony accelerates a process of accepting that failure if part of starting up, an opportunity to work out what's not working.
When we can accept failure as a positive, we are liberated. Hallelujah! When we survive failure once, we go on and play with jeopardy a little more often. We try new things out; we rock the boat now and again and we get ahead, because others notice a ballsier, more self-assured you. Obviously, some risky choices will continue to crash and burn, the ones that stick though will have only happened because we weren’t scared to fail.
The good news is that in today’s energetic work landscape, you can train yourself to fail fast.
Job. Done. Didn’t. Work. Failed. Fast. Moved. On.
Fail Fast is a buzz-term for modern entrepreneurs. Failing fast is important because it allows companies to stay relevant and continually turn out new ideas.
Failures are digestible when you take them in small steps. One Leap of Faith is a lot more terrifying than a series of mildly risky stepping-stones. If you know you're risk and failure adverse, start small and beat down those jitters one stride at a time. Remember, scared women are less likely to succeed. It's ok to fail. Hear it, accept it, and keep on going.
So here's our 10 Minute Workout to help you embrace failure and love your mistakes:
The trick to embracing failure is to stop seeing any sort of failure at all. To do this, you need to change your goals. If you are able to view things as a learning experience then you won’t have failed, but you will have learnt something new. Every time you feel you’ve had a failure, no matter how small, ask yourself these three powerful questions:
1. What did I learn from this situation?
2. How can I grow as a person from this experience?
3. What are three positive things about this situation?
When you first attempt to list three positive things about the failure, your mind may be resistant. But if you stick with the exercise and do it as a default and on repeat, you’ll start seeing new opportunities in things that went wrong.
Have you had a big failure in your life? What was your biggest lesson? We'd love to hear from you below.