In her column on dealing with life’s challenges, life coach Karen Campbell advises we give failure a big old smooch on the mush.
We all know a person who’s just good at everything, right? You know the type: always gets the good job/relationship; can turn their hand to anything and be pretty good at it. Failure doesn’t seem to be in their vocab. Annoying aren’t they? Then there’s the rest of us who are great at… spectacularly fucking stuff up, usually in a public domain containing the aforementioned good-at-everything-tossers.
I know who I’d rather go for a pint with. People that fail at stuff are generally pretty brave, the ones who’ve given it a go, whatever the end result may be.
When we’re kids, failure isn’t even on our radar. You just want to try everything and anything and it’s great fun. It’s a shame we don’t carry that amazing attitude with us into grown-up world.
There’s still a stigma associated with failure; an embarrassment about falling short, of not being good enough. I’m here to tell you that it’s a pile of crap: our so-called failures are the key to us being the amazing people we are today.
Let’s look back at some likely humdingers. The royal buggering up of that relationship, job interview, exam, whatever. I mean I have a ‘friend’ (*ahem*) who went into an exam convinced it was a physics exam – turned out to be biology.
The realisation caused a mild panic attack, which coupled with already severe hayfever meant I, sorry she, promptly crumpled into a rashy, teary, asthmatic mess on the floor and had to be escorted out. Despite her thoughts to the contrary though, her life wasn’t over.
Or I have another ‘friend’ (*another cough*) who on being dumped by her long-term boyfriend very seriously thought she’d massively failed at all future happiness because she was an insane psycho with severe mental health problems (as he kindly told her – and her mum). She wasn’t.
“JK Rowling knows about failure: check out her Twitter timeline where she’s posted all the many rejection letters she received from publishing houses for Harry Potter while living on the breadline.”
My point is: every one of us has failed at something. It’s what we do with that failure that counts.
Do we ignore how rubbish it made us feel and mosey on into the next test, job, relationship making the same mistakes, or do we learn from it and mould ourselves ready for what’s coming next? (Spoiler: second one.)
1. No great success is achieved without failure. Look at people who are thought of as successful (Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey). All experienced failure and not just a little bit – spectacular failure. But they dusted off and tried and tried again.
2. Don’t fret or compare: you are who you are. We can’t all be good at everything, so try everything you fancy. If you fail, so what?!
3. The fear of failure is immense but turn that fear into the excitement of stepping into the unknown, as you never know where that may lead you. Stepping out of our comfort zone is a good thing.
She’s had a shout-out in my articles before, but there’s an excellent woman well worth mentioning again: JK Rowling. This is a woman who knows about failure (check out her Twitter timeline where she’s posted all the many rejection letters she received from publishing houses for Harry Potter while living on the breadline).
She also delivered an amazing address to the graduates of Harvard University called ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination’, which included one of my favourite quotes of all time: “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you may as well have not lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”
Go forth and fuck up, my friends.
Read Karen’s tips for surfing the waves of a crisis like a pro here.
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Karen Campbell is a life coach at www.your-dreamcatcher.com. She likes gin, James McAvoy and pretending she's not from Scunthorpe.