How to Deal with Failure – 4 Responses

According to Alice Thomson in the Times, we have a problem with failure in British culture. I’ve been convinced she’s right for a few years now.  No failure please, we’re British

“So how many times have you failed?” she was asked by a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. “Which was your best one?” Their approach to failure was as a badge of honour, a rite of passage. If you’ve spent time in other cultures, especially across the pond, you get to see our own culture more clearly. Thomson is right: us Brits are scared silly of failure. The stupid thing is, everything around us was invented and built by people who made loads of failures but kept trying anyway. Everything!

This defeat led to a changed culture for New Zealand

It seems that everywhere I look I find more examples, and every week too. As the Rugby World Cup starts on Friday I was reading about the great supremacy of the current All Blacks side (New Zealand to the uninitiated). It explained that the roots of this team’s culture of success came from, wait for it, not a high, but a low: a crushing defeat by South Africa in 2004 which they followed up with an horrendous binge drinking session. From there they bounced to world domination. The road to greatness passed through the valley of despair.

We’re no strangers to the fear of failure in church too. If we’re to respond significantly to the huge challenge that 92% of our country don’t go to church, we’re going to have to try a few new ways of doing things, and no doubt get it wrong quite a lot. But the fear of failure holds us back.

So, trying to keep these blogs short, here are 4 things to change your approach to failure:

1. Admit we’re totally afraid of failure, but push through anyway.
2. Realise everyone who achieves great things only does so after failing many times.
3. Tell yourself not to be afraid of it but to embrace it.
4. Believe it’s the route to getting better.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Can you talk about your failures?