Ah, the aromatic tang of mulled wine, smoking logs and damp dogs, it’s winter, it’s Christmas and the end of the year is nigh. Time to reflect on 12 months of grind and growth and memories made as the clocks tick steadily onwards for it to all begin cyclically once more on 1st Jan. Did we hit our well-intended New Year goals set this time last year? Did we gloriously succeed or miserably fail at our shiny ‘best year yet’? Any regrets? Any cringy mistakes cowering in our Shame Centres?
I’ve got a few blobs of murky ‘why did I do that?’ reminisces percolating. Of course I do. I’m human. We all do.
But actually mistakes are deliciously interesting. They represent those decisions we made, either unconsciously or consciously, which propelled us in a surprise direction. They are the decisions we made which took us down a retrospectively identified ‘wrong’ path. And hey, hindsight is indeed a beautiful thang.
But what if we embrace a bold reframe and acknowledge there’s no such thing as a wrong path, it’s all learning? That in fact failure is a blessing. That failure represents our brave attempts at leaning into life and Trying. That failure gives us the clue about what not to do next time – think Edison and his 1000 ways not to build a lightbulb.
The challenge with the ghastly side of Failure is its power to shrink us. Because let’s be honest, who hasn’t soulfully shrivelled and felt the malignancy of self-esteem melting down into those puddles of muddy damp dogness when we’ve done something apparently wrong. It’s painful and the most gaggy of pills to swallow.
So, let’s shift this. Let’s move from Pain to Power.
4 Steps to Positively React to Failure
- Take full accountability for the mistake. You made the decision which caused the consequences you’re now labelling a mistake. Now own it, and reflect hard on it. Take the time to create a growth moment. What were the circumstances? Prior to deciding, did you consider alternate outcomes? Were you mentally present/awake when you made the call? What were the drivers motivating you to decide the way you did? Is there any pattern to observe ie have you done this before?
- Embrace the gift of ‘What Not To Do Again’. Choose to change course and try anew. In How To Fail, Elizabeth Day cites Failure as ‘a necessary staging post on a journey towards greater success’. View it this way and progress onwards, differently. Be strategic. Properly plan. Take 2.
- Persevere. Commit fully to this Chapter 2 and glide over any inevitable bumps along the way calmly. Lean in hard and wholeheartedly to your new tack-changing efforts. Have the resilience and foresight to acknowledge that it’s okay if the new path doesn’t lead directly to Nirvana and forms kinks along the way. Even technologically-advanced, satellite-oriented flight path needs repeated course correction. Re-orientation is an acceptable part of the process. Don’t give up.
- Relax. After you’ve seized the learnings, laugh it off with a ‘so what’, ‘who cares’, ‘oh well’ laissez faire nonchalance. Because actually, it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and no one except your own monster, your Pathological Critic, is judging you harshly. If judgement is a major issue for you, commit to experimenting at stepping out of your ‘I hope they think I’m good enough’ comfort zone daily – send company wide emails, post on social media endlessly, address your Pathological Critic as Derek, etc, then eventually (and quickly) you’ll become anaesthetised to the fear of what others may think. Imagine the relish of that liberation!
So, let’s use me and my 2022 to apply of all this. Where did I go wrong this year (according to me)? Here are 3 things I admit I wouldn’t have done if I had my time again (NB no regret as my philosophy is that regret is a wasted emotion):-
- I accepted a client role at work on top of my day job without questioning it, despite so blatantly not having an extra 35% spare capacity each day, nor the role demanding my experience, my particular corporate strengths nor indeed having relevance to my core business remit. I slid into a 12 hour a day operational role, monitoring tech spreadsheets, despairing at the daily gobbledygook task list, losing energy and motivation with each excel field, not to mention probably under delivering on my day job.
- I ignored my gut reaction that post-surgery something was wrong and I wasn’t healing correctly, until a scan 9 months later did indeed reveal I’d been stitched up incorrectly and this could have, and should have, been remedied way closer to the original surgery date.
- Drank too much booze and drunk cried one Saturday in front of, and unnecessarily worrying, nearest and dearest over nothing in particular. Oh deary, deary me (hangs head so low in shame chin is on knees).
Taking my own medicine and implementing a Failure reframe which guides me to what I need to change next year, I pledge now to:-
- Say empowered No’s, especially where hierarchy and imposter syndrome propel me into blind, subservient behaviour. I shouldn’t have unconsciously accepted that role assuming I was the right casting, or that I could find the time, or indeed naively believing that there had been universal management decision to place me in the role. The actuality now I’ve woken up into my leadership empowerment is that this remit is not right for me (nor the company nor client), it poses debilitating distraction from my core contribution and strengths and finally that the business fully supports my decision to step away back into my highest contribution focusing on my original remit. I’m now recruiting internally for the right candidate.
- Always honour intuition and make every effort to examine what my body, mind and soul are screaming at me. We so often dangerously and inadvertently defer to ‘experts’ when our hearts are guiding us exactly to what the next right move is instead. I will be aware of where I’m trusting institutions over my own instinct and prioritise the latter.
- Alcohol is an interesting one for me. I can abstain comfortably for months, never drink alone at home, prefer vitality over poison, etc, but get me in a stressed/hyper/excited/”I deserve a treat” mode and goodness things go awry. My new resolve is to recognise when I’m in my ‘release valve’ mind state and request my safety net (the cherished family and friends I’m forever grateful to have around me) trigger self-sabotage awareness and help slow me down, or just take full self-control and abstain altogether/drive/choose elderflower water/etc.
So, there we have it. Such blessings buried in my 2022 mistakes. I invite you now to find yours…
With love as ever and best wishes to embrace your daily path to flourishing, Bianca x