It’s an issue I find myself constantly facing with my own kids, as well as in many situations with the managers and leaders I work with. Fear of failure stops people from achieving what they are capable of. We must realise that failure is inevitable if we are to learn and improve.
With my kids it often comes out as “I’m not very good at…”, or “I can’t do…” and I hate it! Of course some things will come easier to them than others but there is almost nothing that they couldn’t become really good at if they seriously wanted to and put in plenty of hard work.
I’m really enjoy Matthew Syed’s writing on this subject. First with ‘Black Box Thinking’ and then in his book for children called ‘You Are Awesome’. In this work he speaks to children about how you get really good at something. Sure there has to be a little bit of natural ability to begin with but then it’s down to practice, hard work and, most importantly, getting comfortable with the idea that to improve you have to fail. You have to try something and it not work as you’d hoped…so you try again. And again. And again.
Whether it’s a new marketing strategy or learning Italian – making friends with failure (also known as learning to get it right) is essential. Cue the Thomas Edison light bulb quote!
I find this challenging as I realise I am just as prone to to failure avoidance as my kids. Head down; keep going; keep the end in mind.