I'm sure you've heard the (supposedly) motivational words, Failure Is Not An Option , as a way to inspire people to do great things. It makes great ad copy when selling sneakers or gatorade, and it ALWAYS makes for stirring interviews when people like Donald Trump, Olympic gold medalists, and award winners from every walk of life say it.
The Failure Is Not An Option perspective is a state of mind that can be extremely useful in helping us to keep moving forward no matter what setbacks come our way. But it can also do the EXACT OPPOSITE.
For those of us who were born (or raised) as perfectionists, or for those of us who overwhelm easily, the Failure Is Not An Option mentality can actually paralyze us before we even begin.
Because if we're trying something new, by definition, we're ATTEMPTING something we've never done before. And if we've never done it before (or if we currently suck at something that we're trying to improve at it) we don't know how to do it well yet. And expecting ourselves to be perfect at something we don't actually know how to do well yet can be A LOT of pressure.
Just imagine if you're teaching a baby to walk. Little Junior has started hoisting himself up to a standing position on the coffee table and looks JUST ABOUT ready to let go and take a step or two toward you. Now, imagine if your words to him were, "Okay, Kiddo, Failure Is NOT An Option --let go of the table and walk over to me. Don't screw up! And, whatever you do, you CAN'T fall down!"
Luckily, most children who are about to take their first steps are too young to even understand what you'd be talking about if you were to say that to them, yet, isn't that what we're saying to ourselves when we imagine that Failure Is Not An Option; that we have to perform perfectly?
Everyone knows that MOST children, on letting go of the table and lunging forward, trying to take a step will end up falling on their butt on the floor--if not during the first step, then during the second or the third--and even if they successfully walk, they are bound to fall again the minute they start adding speed, turns, or enthusiasm to the mix. Not to mention that most babies don't even know what they did to make themselves walk the first time they do it, since they're so surprised it worked, they don't always know how to repeat what they just did.
The step that the idea Failure Is Not An Option MISSES is that there IS no success or improvement without failure. Yes, occasionally, we may be lucky and the first time out trying something new. We do well (and label it "beginner's luck" not "beginner's solid and completely dependable talent"), but MOST of the time we WILL screw up, fail, fall, or, at the very least, have a type-o. And what's GOOD about that (Yes, it's good! I swear!!!!) is that THAT is how we learn to do better. We can't course-correct if we don't go OFF course first. We can't refine anything until we do it just a little bit wrong. And we can't learn what to do unless we become absolutely sure about what we DON'T want to do. It's all part of the same process that leads us to success. And to put the kind of pressure on ourselves that we're NOT ALLOWED to screw up is counter productive. How can we learn if we can't screw up?
If I had fallen as a baby learning to walk (which, believe me, I did!) does that mean I should have quit and never tried doing it again because I didn't do it perfectly the first time? Absolutely not. With that logic, I'd still be crying, flat on my diapered butt by the coffee table in our old apartment, never having learned to walk.
So maybe it's time I (and all of us) try on the idea that not only IS failure an option, it may even be a REQUIREMENT on the road to progress and success.
This week, if you're like me and get paralyzed by the idea thatFailure Is Not An Option I invite you to turn that idea on it's ear and see how much easier it may be for you to take strides forward if you let yourself see failure for the learning and improvement tool that it actually is!About Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Life Coach, Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, is a senior level coach certified through the Fearless Living Institute. She is an expert in helping her clients to live the lives they were born to live. She is also the creator of http://www.lifebeyondcelebrity.com/ , where she helps celebrities and others in the public eye create balanced and fulfilling lives beyond their fame. Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, also offers teleclasses, private 1:1 and group coaching. To help both celebrites and non-celebrities alike live the lives the were born to live. Learn more now at http://www.rebeccasoulette.com/ .