Think about the word "change". It's an intimidating concept, often prompted by its notorious partner in crime, failure. We've all experienced the stinging slap of failure, that harsh call from the universe implying that change isn't desired, but needed. Yet, amid this turmoil of failings and the consequent evolution, there's a silver lining. Through these punctuated instances, we reinvent ourselves. We embrace change as an ally rather than an adversary. In grappling with the ominous phrase, 'until you see change is needed', remember this: failures pave the path towards future successes.
Let's embark on a transformative journey together. Learning to not withstand the gusts of failure but harness them. And propelling us forward towards fitness, wellness, and personal growth.
The very word can be daunting, often seen as an end rather than a beginning. But what if you saw it differently? What if failure was the catalyst for change, the spark to ignite your evolution? Having the courage to fail is not an end, but rather a shifting point that prompts a powerful metamorphosis. An invitation to grow, to reshape, and to take decisive action towards your personal goals.
If you look at various points in your life, you will find key decisions that you took that changed your life for the better followed by a low point. Self-reflection and personal change were pointed out to you by a failure. After a period of self-loathing and self-flagellation, you took action.
Many of your brightest points are connected to your biggest failures.
By embracing failure, you redefine your path. You allow yourself to acknowledge your flaws, rewrite your narratives, and rise stronger.
Seen through such a lens, failure becomes your greatest life teacher. It is your guide towards an invigorating journey of self-reinvention. Of tangible change, and boundless personal victories.
So, brace for impact and welcome the slap of failure – it may be the wake-up call you need for your grandest evolution yet.
Hated to fail
Like most of you, I hated to fail. As a kid, I was that annoying one who was a combination of:
- played sports well
- got good marks in exams (without much effort)
- cocky and arrogant
If not for failures and multiple slaps in the face, I would be insufferable today.
Plus, not doing what I am doing today.
Without evolution, you cannot survive.
Without introspection, you stagnate.
While rock-bottom is not necessary, some form of bottom is an important catalyst for change.
As a founder/leader, I've needed to repeat these lessons to myself. Because it is difficult to embrace failure when you have more people's lives entwined in yours. At The Quad, we've set out to build a successful fitness coaching company that stays true to our core values. But as one of our friends and early adopters pointed out, the brashness and courage that we had at the start are often lost. Especially when you are successful.
This is a lesson I could always use to remind me. And I thought I'd share a personal story.
Going to college
I lost interest in studying in my XI and XII and didn't do well on my boards. But instead of facing my failure and dealing with the consequences, I bugged the crap out of my parents' and plugged in a cheat code. They paid more money than they could afford to get me into a premier engineering college.
By side-stepping my failure, I lost a valuable opportunity. Fate, however, was on point.
I hated college. It was the same fucking shit all over again. Abysmal teachers, "slog over books", regurgitate stuff, and do not learn anything. My personal experience of college education was awful. I went into a deeper hole and acted out for a few years, without realising I was acting out.
The guilt of not doing well in my exams, the guilt of forcing my dad to pay for my college seat (something he was dead against but there's a limit of whining and bitching everyone can stand), and the guilt of hating college - total awfulness.
This failure made me do a couple of things. One, I took my dad's advice when he offered it next. I took a job writing code. A level of code that I had never written. I learned how little I knew. It was truly humbling. After a few months of realising I knew very little, I slowly pushed my coding skills upwards. By the end of one year, I was competent enough to know what was required to write good code.
But I also realised something. I was not happy writing code. I wanted to understand WHY one was building/designing products and how they were experienced. Back in 2004, this was a big question to ask and not many people had the answers to it. But I knew deep down that I needed to understand this.
So, I quit my job (which I was finally seeing progress at) and went to grad school for Interaction Design. I was fully funded. And it remains one of the best decisions I've made in my life. I wouldn't be here today if not for that decision.
And that means the failures that led to it are important. As much as I would've liked to not have the sucky parts, the sucky parts were the catalyst. For a life-changing experience.
The entire episode - questioning the WHY behind a product, having the guts to quit a job I was halfway decent at, finding a graduate school program on a hunch, and getting a scholarship to study - was a huge success. On the back of my failure.
Now, there were a lot more lessons I learned from this entire episode over the years. For example, it is not necessary to conform. It is not required to buy into the games people say you must play. It is important to look at why you are acting out, not just curtail yourself. I'll say those for later.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
-- Henry Ford
Failure is not the problem. It is the catalyst.
How are you going to respond to failure?
Can you view it as a launchpad for new ideas and approaches?
Musing on my own story, I can see that I need to create systems to experiment and fail better. Faster. Build a learning culture for myself. And for the people I work with.
Creating a culture that encourages learning from failure is an essential leadership task. How does one do that? Promoting open discussions about failures, conducting thorough analyses of these incidents, and proactively seeking opportunities to experiment. But most of all, allowing people to fail.
From enhancing self-awareness to building character, these lessons enable all of us to redefine our strategies and discover better ways of achieving goals.
Accepting Failure and Self-Compassion
To learn from failure, you must first learn to accept it. This involves giving oneself permission to feel uncomfortable emotions associated with failure, practising self-compassion, and adopting a growth mindset. By accepting failure, you open the door to personal and professional growth.
The Transformative Power of Failure
Failure, while often feared, is a crucial part of leadership and life. It provides invaluable lessons that can drive personal growth and organizational success. By embracing failure, you can foster a culture of learning and innovation that ultimately drives success. The key is to view failure not as a stumbling block, but as a stepping stone to greater achievement.
Just because that's cliche does not make it any less true or relevant.