I often work with people who are concerned about failure. They worry about failing. They are afraid of failing. Sometimes they don't try to do things they really want to do because of the fear that they might fail at it. Sound familiar? It's a common problem, and unfortunate.
We've become so success-driven that we are afraid to fail. And the word, “fail" has such negative connotations. I think it's a shame that our fear of failing may stop us from going after something we want, such as trying a new approach, or even a new pastime.
One of the things I like best about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and its approach to human behavior is the attitude this approach takes about “failure. " One of the tenets of NLP is that “There is no failure; only feedback. " You no longer have to view yourself as having failed at something. Instead, you've received feedback. What you tried didn't work. Now you can do something else and get feedback about that. Each action we take, each communication we attempt will earn us feedback. We can then use the feedback to alter our strategy, to do something different and, hopefully, have different results.
What I particularly like about this is the lack of judgment. Instead you evaluate whether what you did or said was effective. There is no judgment about whether you are “a failure. " Notice the difference. "Effectiveness" is feedback about whether an action worked or not. Being “a failure" is a judgment on the person. Too often, we buy into this judgment on ourselves, and in doing so, make it tougher to alter our strategy and move on. Imagine, for example, what Edison would have done if he'd deemed himself “a failure" when his experiments in electricity didn't initially work. We might still be reading by kerosene lamplight. People who have new ideas, especially new inventions or new techniques of doing something inevitably “fail" at some point in the process. If they considered themselves “a failure, " they'd probably give up. But thankfully, instead they use that “failure" as feedback to make necessary changes and move on. Think about it. What if you were to stop beating yourself up for the mistakes you've made in your life (and we've all made some real doozies)? What if you could take the feedback those situations offered, make adjustments and move on? Think of the time and energy you would save!
Utilizing the feedback that our experiences offer allows us to move on with our lives. Sometimes you'll just pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start again. Sometimes, like a good sailor, you'll make “course adjustments" so that you can get to your destination. Next time you get feedback, use it as an indication that you need to modify your approach. Something might not be working. Just make adjustments and keep going. That's using the feedback, and not allowing it to doom you to failure.
(c) 2008 Linda Pucci, Ph. D
Linda Pucci, Ph. D. is a psychologist, life coach, trainer and owner of Inner Resource Center, LLC. She has 30 years of experience helping people overcome obstacles, change their lives, and reach goals they had not thought possible using her solution focused approach. She specializes in helping people get unstuck from negative emotions and limiting beliefs that sabotage their success. Get additional free tips and challenges for getting unstuck from her Inner Resources report at http://www.InnerResourceCenter.com or contact her for a free 20 minute consultation.