USE YOUR FAILURES AS A RESOURCE
It was 2015, I was in Mobile, Alabama participating in a business conference put on by my employer. Mobile was a fascinating place, the food was delicious; Cajun Crawfish Pasta, Alligator, fried chicken and grits. The opulent French architecture, mixed with gnarly oak forests and old brick buildings.
There were porches and patios on every building, denoting the easy living culture that pervaded the area. Drinks, stories, and music were shared between friends on warm nights. I happily immersed myself in the atmosphere down south, if only for a short week. I was about to learn a valuable lesson.
I’m going to share with you a lesson that I have learned about failure. I learned that perspective is very important, the way that we view our failures and the way that we react to them is crucial to our success.
Failure is really an opportunity to learn, it is life giving you feedback, constructive criticism.
During the day we had meetings about company news, projects and plans, at nights we all went out to enjoy the local scene. On this particular day, we were in a marketing break-out session. The hotel’s conference room filled with around 100 people was divided into 5 different groups.
Each of the groups was assigned a specific marketing idea to brainstorm. One representative from each group was required to go up on stage after and present the ideas to the whole room. My group decided that I should be our presenter.
Despite my slight apprehension. I had been Voluntold.
Presentation time came. I walked confidently up to the stage as a couple people from the audience cheered me on. I walked up the few steps to the stage and took my place with the other presenters. Then the fear hit me, like a ton of bricks; It took me completely by surprise. I had expected to be a little nervous, but this was something entirely different.
My whole body was shaking, my legs shivered and I couldn’t keep my microphone still despite my best efforts. I did my best to power through my presentation, but I had to stop part way through because of the fear. “I don’t even know why I’m shaking this much”. I said to the crowd. To which I received sympathy and then some cheers of encouragement to continue. With much emotional strain, I made my way to the end of my presentation, finally getting off-stage and back to my seat.
STRAIGHT TO MY ROOM
As soon as the session was over I headed straight to my room to cool off. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t want to go back downstairs to face my colleagues. I felt like a miserable failure. For the next three weeks, I just didn’t quite feel myself; I felt more sensitive, my mood was just at a baseline lower level. I was surprised that one short speech could have such a great effect on my life.
Who among us has never failed before? It is an inevitable experience that all of us have to go through. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes from time to time, but what we do after we fail is important. If we change our perspective about failure, bring in a new mindset; we will see that every failure is really an opportunity to grow, to learn, to improve ourselves.
After my experience in Alabama, I could have decided that public speaking was not for me and try to avoid it for the rest of my life. Then I wouldn’t have to go through that powerful fear and embarrassment that I had felt. But I never would have improved either.
BUT I NEVER WOULD HAVE IMPROVED
Instead, I decided to head exactly in the opposite direction, directly towards my fear! The only way to truly tackle my fear was to face it head on and learn how to speak in public, then I wouldn’t have to cower for the rest of my life in fear of being asked to speak in public. I made a choice to face my fears head-on.
If we change our view of failure, then we can start using our failures as a powerful tool to promote self-improvement and transform our lives. We must move towards a place where we not only expect and tolerate failure, but actively seek it out as a resource. We must build a mindset where we embrace failure into our lives as a positive and useful tool.