Lessons in Failure

If you aren’t failing, you are not taking big enough risks. That’s something many of us are taught from a young age. But are we taught how to come back or cope with these failures? Taking risks in business and in your career itself can be tough. The thought of failing can be paralyzing for some. It can feel like the ultimate gut punch in not only your career, but can leak into your personal life as well. A different perspective of this brought on by Christie Arscott, author of Begin Boldly, is that risks do not need to have a binary outcome of either pass or fail. Instead, you “either achieve a goal or learn a valuable lesson.” No one is perfect and no one can do everything without failing sometimes – that’s how you grow and learn. People tend to overestimate the impact of failure rather than reducing the risk of failure. Meaning one doesn’t even attempt a situation because they fear the failure will be too great to come back from. Arscott recommends putting your energy into creating a plan for failure instead. 

For women, the confidence in these situations is still lagging behind men more often than one might expect. Women tend to equate failure to their identity whereas men use failure as data to do better the next time. Gaining confidence can be tough, but an option may be building courage instead. Courage can exist in the absence of confidence and acts of courage in the workplace can have incremental impacts over time that can eventually become routine. 

Challenge yourself to be the first to speak in small groups, offering to take the first go-round of a project or task, or sharing a different viewpoint in a meeting that others might not agree with are all great ways to get the ball rolling. With this new-found courage an increase in your level of self-confidence will follow.

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