F is for Failure. Embrace failure to achieve success. This post is part of our blog series, The A to Z of Being Babyproof, a celebration of the attitudes and behaviours it takes to balance career and family – because “babyproof” is not a destination, it’s a blueprint for having it all and making it work.

 

The New Year is always seen as a valuable time of personal reflection and regeneration. Having spent the festive holiday period over-indulging and out of our usual routines, many of us take the opportunity heralded by January 1st to review, regroup, reorganise and make plans for the year ahead. Given January’s dynamic focus on positivity, it may seem odd therefore to start the New Year on the Babyproof blog advising you to embrace failure. But bear with me – there’s method in my madness! Understanding the role that experiencing and embracing failure has to play in your future success as a parent balancing work and family life, may just be the key to achieving your ambitions this year.

 

When we think about New Year resolutions, we like to focus on immediate plans; how we can become, fitter, healthier, more productive, or get that promotion in a certain timeframe for example. And of course it’s admirable to have this period of a positive approach to achieving defined goals. But when you review last year’s resolutions – how do you feel? For those you managed to keep, brilliant! Congratulations on your achievements and I hope you celebrated. But what about those you failed to keep? If you find that you have resignedly swept them under the carpet, blindly rolled them over to this year, or simply replaced them with different goals (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) – taking the time to properly reflect on the reasons for those failures is one of the most important ways to set yourself up for success this year.

 

embrace failure

 

Here’s how to embrace failure:

 

Change the way you view failure. Most of us see it as overwhelmingly negative. Psychologically we are programmed to avoid adverse outcomes at all costs, even if they are short-term. We avoid potential pain or humiliation, refusing to set ambitious goals for fear of feeling like a failure if we don’t achieve them, or staying in our comfort zones, doing what we’ve always done or know we can do because we are inclined to always take the path of least harm. (Have a look at the Alain Forget book on this). However, thinking of failure as something wholly bad for us, is to do it, (and us), a great disservice. But if failure isn’t really ‘failure’ –  then what is it?

 

 

embrace failure

 

It’s feedback – when we don’t get the result we want first time, what we do get is the information we need for getting it right next time, or the time after. By reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do differently, you can fine-tune your efforts so that you increase your chances of success next time. Think of Thomas Edison’s 1000 attempts to make the perfect prototype light-bulb. On being asked about his myriad ‘failures’, Edison replied “I didn’t fail 1,000 times, the light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Embrace failure by thinking of set-backs as steps leading you along the path to success.

 

embrace failure

 

It’s growth – Carol Dweck’s research on the “growth mindset”  – being able to see set-backs and failures as opportunity for growth – is what distinguishes those who succeed from those who don’t. Opening our minds to the fact that failures lead to improvement, greater knowledge and ultimately success, means we can reduce the power that the ‘fear’ of failure has over us.

 

embrace failure

 

It’s a great teacher – when we fail at something new we learn about ourselves and the world around us. It makes us more creative and curious. We become better at solving problems. If we continue to only do the things we ‘know’ we can do, the learning process stops. Being willing to embrace failure makes us life-long learners!

 

embrace failure

 

It builds resilience – challenges and set-backs are an integral part of life. If we never failed, we’d never learn how to cope with hardship and overcome adversity. If you sometimes feel that your background or education might be holding you back, reflect that the earlier you meet challenges in your life, the more practised you will be at negotiating set-backs. It’s no coincidence that many super successful people were once bullied at school! Every failure you experience and every hardship you overcome, makes you stronger.

 

embrace failure

 

It brings opportunities – have you ever been devastated or disappointed when you failed at something or things have not gone as you’d hoped, only to discover that something else, often better, happens instead which you did not expect? This is because you had the courage to take action, and the courage to confront possible failure. Maintaining the status quo and not taking action will protect you from failure – but will also isolate you from the further opportunities that taking action brings.

 

embrace failure

 

It makes you humble – and likeable. It’s human nature to root for an underdog, and people identify with fallibility. It makes you more human and appreciative of success when you do achieve it. Humility is an attractive trait. If you embrace failure therefore, you will connect better with your fellow humans – and what could be a better outcome for 2018 than that?

 

So, now you have a true understanding of what failure is, you can make it your goal this year to embrace it! How? By being ambitious and committing to daring goals or resolutions, safe in the knowledge that any failure you experience will bring you all of the above. Believe in yourself  and your ability to bounce back from adversity. Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and you will learn and grow.

 

Wishing you many new learning experiences for 2018!

 

Share your experiences in our LinkedIn and Facebook groups. You can also register your interest in our Babyproof Your Career online course – new for 2018!

 


embrace failureCaroline Flanagan is a Keynote Speaker, Babyproof Coach and Author of Babyproof Your Career, The Secret to Balancing Work and Family so you can Enjoy It All. Caroline believes passionately in the dream of having it all, and founded Babyproof Your Life to train and prepare ambitious career women for the marathon of working parenthood so they can find their own way to #enjoyitall and #makeitwork. You can reach Caroline at caroline@babyproofyourlife.com