The chances are you’ve already failed today, and you probably thought nothing of it.

I’ve just spent 15 minutes failing to help my mum get access to her email, I failed to write this post earlier and I failed to make sure I consumed a balanced nutritional intake today.

It’s likely if you run your day back to yourself while you read this, that you’ve experienced multiple failures and your world didn’t stop turning, the sky didn’t come crashing in and life didn’t end.

Failure is an integral part of our existence.

 

A 1st 15 player knows that they’ll likely to miss tackles or kicks at goal, a Sunday cricketer knows that they’ll be dismissed, and they still turn out each weekend. 

Yet, when we consider our goals, things we lend importance to, like losing weight, sleeping more, or working less, when we encounter a small amount of failure, we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

How many of you have committed to losing weight, or changing to a more balanced nutritional approach, and then fold when invited out for dinner or to a friends party, and fall back on the old ‘I’ll start again tomorrow’ only to
find it’s the following New Year’s resolution and you’re still working on it?!

Making changes means doing things entirely new and different.

If you’re used to driving life in an automatic and now you find yourself in a manual, you’re bound to stall at the start. Don’t shout at the dashboard. Check you’re in neutral, pop the clutch and start off again.

Just like you wouldn’t let this stop you from getting to your destination, failing isn’t really failing unless you let it beat you and stop you from reaching your goals.

Nike took advantage of this very message when promoting a new line of Air Jordan gear. Micheal Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, fronted an ad campaign based on failure (you can see a very slick version here).

Sports psychology researcher John Dunn – 

“There are essentially two types of perfectionist—one strives for perfection and the other demands it,” he says. “When one strives for perfection and can accept that mistakes are part of the process, failure can be quite motivating. On the other hand, we know that perfection is almost unattainable; therefore, a lot of bad things can come from demanding it.”

Dunn found many reactions to failure were unhealthy in unhealthy perfectionists who experienced worry, rumination, anger, pessimism and dejection.

Healthy perfectionists, on the other hand, were seen to be more optimistic, having higher levels of confidence when failing, worried less and had more agile responses to adversity.

“Athletes who think failure is not an option will eventually experience some form of emotional burnout, or put incredible levels of pressure on themselves by creating an unattainable standard of perfection and are emotionally exhausted all the time because nothing they do is ever good enough.”

Treating ourselves with compassion is a key trait towards allowing failure to exist, but not letting it derail our progress.

Dunn’s colleague, sports psychology researcher, Amber Mosewich – 

“In fact, the research suggests that individuals who are high in self-compassion take more personal responsibility for a mistake, and have higher personal initiative. When people are not afraid of the harsh criticism that can come with a mistake, they are more likely to see the situation clearly, and their perception of the situation is actually more accurate. They don’t ignore a mistake or dwell on it; they decide what needs to be done and move forward with a better focus.”

“In the end, we want our thoughts to be working for us, not against us”

“It’s impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.”
~JK Rowling

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