Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Make Failure Your Friend!

How many of us have a fear of failure? 

Could you see your failure in a positive light?  

Fear of failure can have a huge negative impact on how we live our lives. It can stop us from taking risks or trying new things. For perfectionists, this fear can be even more debilitating.

As Brene Brown said in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection
“Perfectionism is self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”
Failure is seen as unimaginable. Most of us want to avoid negative feelings like shame, judgment, and blame, which go hand in hand with failure.

This week Gatorade released a new commercial that turns that idea that failure is all bad upside-down. In the ad “Make Defeat Your Fuel” sports stars, Michael Jordan, Peyton and Eli Manning, and Serena Williams reveal their greatest failures which ultimately motivated them toward their greatest victories. The ad then highlights Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan at the end of February’s Super Bowl where the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots. Click here to take a look.

We have a choice - either let failure be what stops us, or use it to motivate us toward success. 

This speaks to the idea of Mindset by Psychologist and Author, Carol Dweck, Ph.D. In her book she describes the new psychology of success with what she calls a growth mindset. When we have a growth mindset it means we have a strong desire to learn, we embrace challenges, persist in the face of obstacles, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. 

In other words, with a growth mindset we don’t fear failures, instead we use them to create better opportunities. 

For those of us who have an overwhelming fear of failure, we are operating from a fixed mindset, which means we avoid challenges, give up easily, often see effort as fruitless, ignore negative feedback, and can feel threatened by the success of other people.

With a fixed mindset, we stay stuck; with a growth mindset, failure can be our friend.

One of my new favorite books is Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Sheryl is the author of the book “Lean In” from 2013. Option B Was co-written by Adam Grant, author and psychology professor at Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. 
Together they wrote Option B following the tragic and sudden death of Sheryl's husband in 2015. She shares heart-wrenching and inspiring personal stories about facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy with the help of positive psychology (PP)and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In Chapter 9 of her book she talks candidly about "failing at work." Sheryl returned to work as a widow, single mother, and mourning her husband. Through this "new normal" she learned the importance of a growth mindset.

In Option B she talks about how important it is for all of us to learn from our mistakes. She points out how initial failure can be more effective for creating future innovation than success. Having a culture where people feel safe talking about mistakes can create opportunities for new discoveries and creative ideas that can lead to more overall success. 

As a small business owner and clinical therapist I keep a picture of "famous failures" above my office desk as a simple reminder to keep my perfectionism in check.

If I pay attention I can see examples of growth following failure all around me. When my son has a fantastic little league baseball game, hitting his first grand slam,  I realized he had spent extra time focused on batting practice following a game where he struck out every time at bat. 

With a growth mindset, failure can be your friend.

If you are interested in checking out the books mentioned here, you can go to my resources page of my website for these and more helpful resources.
Also, if you want to learn more about counseling with CBT and PP feel free to check out my website or reach out any time for a free consultation! :-) Cara