Framing Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
I made a blunder, blooper, mistake - to me it is a fail. Get this, I ordered 100 copies of my Team Talk Cards, excited to share them with the world!! I was feeling so proud of them and the awesome reviews I had been getting from them.
Shift in story...my best friend came to visit from Ohio. I was so proud to show him the cards in person. He was sitting on the couch mentioning how great the questions are for teams when........HE FOUND A TYPO ON ONE OF THE CARDS!! I was horrified!!
After a night of restless sleep, being mad at myself, wondering after all the proofing I did that I could miss it, I thought....let's share in this moment, as I know in my heart I am not the only person to have such an epic fail. Thus, it was time to blog it out.
Framing failure as an opportunity to learn
We’ve all heard it before…”there’s no such thing as failure.” And while this oh-so-common phrase is meant to be encouraging, serving as a friendly reminder that learning opportunities are everywhere, it could actually use a bit of restructuring. Because technically, failure is very real, and it would be a disservice to invalidate the challenges that come along with it. At the same time, it would also be a disservice to only see failure as a bad thing. At the end of the day, failure is very real, and it presents a tremendous opportunity for growth.
Avoid Invalidating Failure
Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. Projects flop, performance drops, and outcomes aren’t always what we expect. When we don’t meet our expectations, or fall short of projected milestones, it’s perfectly okay to objectively consider these things a failure. Even more importantly, it’s crucial to unlearn the habit of connecting failure with our own personal value. Failure happens, and it’s okay. It’s okay to be disappointed when we don’t meet our goals. It’s okay to be upset when we fall short of our expectations. Don’t invalidate these feelings. Instead, reframe the way you look at failure.
Reframing The Way We Look At Failure
The key is to reframe what failure really means to you. For most of us, that means letting go of the perception that failure reflects on who we are as people, employees, or teammates. Not everything goes according to plan, but a failed initiative at work doesn’t mean that we are failures. Instead, acknowledge that failure is a neutral outcome - in other words, it doesn’t necessarily reflect on our own skills, abilities, or qualities - and can happen to anyone.
When we’re able to strip away the negative stigma of what it means to “fail,” we can begin to acknowledge and recognize the benefits or opportunities that come along with failure. Instead of saying “there’s no such thing as failure,” we can reframe this phrase to consider that even when failure occurs, we are able to benefit from having learned something in the process.
By flipping the narrative to acknowledge that failure doesn’t necessarily reflect on our own worth and also offers the opportunity to learn from our errors or experiences, we can begin to embrace projects from start to finish - no matter the outcome.
This perspective shift is invaluable for teams in the workplace, allowing them to bounce back quickly in the face of unwanted outcomes and find the silver lining at every turn. It also allows teams to embrace the findings that come from “failure.” We learn what NOT to do, what DIDN’T work, and think of things we can do differently NEXT time.
Good news: The reframe of my failure is that it is giving me another opportunity to connect with those I serve, write this blog, send an updated card with a fun note, and redesign the review process for future print jobs.