Failure is an inside job

Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward' – these are the words of author John C. Maxwell and should be the mantra for everyone.

For anyone, failure can be painful. However, most of the businesses and individuals that have gone on to achieve major success will describe a journey filled with false starts, mistakes and lessons learned.

The difference between those that pick themselves up, dust themselves off and do what has to be done very often comes down to attitude. While you can't control everything that happens to you, you can control your attitude and be open to learning from your mistakes.

So, when your child receives less than favourable feedback about their idea, their presentation or their suggestion is denied, these are some things to remind them about:

  • Equip yourself by understanding what makes ideas fail - There's a lot of information about how things work in books, online, from their teacher and in the news. When they put forward an idea or suggestion they're very often putting a lot on the line – will their peers laugh at them, will they get a good mark, will it take a lot of time? So it's important to give them the best chance of success. Encouraging them to invest the time upfront to refine their idea and improve areas of weakness can save them a lot of heartache down the track.
  • Redefine failure and success – Encourage them to think of mistakes as lessons and just like in school, you get to repeat a lesson until it's learned. Sometimes you need a painful wake-up call to learn the lesson, but you'll know you've learned it when your actions change and you see new and promising results.
  • Don't be too quick to declare a failure – keep the bigger picture in mind - One of the biggest challenges facing people with creative ideas is that initially nobody gets them. Be careful not to judge a big idea a failure too quickly, look at initial rejections within the context of the bigger picture.
  • Both success and failure are a journeyThe process of success includes planning, informed decision-making, risk management and identifying opportunities. Equally the process of failure involves ignoring the warning signs, failure to act, poor planning and insufficient risk management.
  • Mistakes are not a permanent stainWhen you're pushing the boundaries nobody gets it right the first time. Henry Ford had two business failures before he started the Ford Motor Company and J.K Rowling's Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishing houses before it was eventually accepted.
  • Being able to fail quickly and recover from setbacks is an important skill. Sometimes the best way to look at ideas is as a collection of experiments – some will pan out and others won't.



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