My husband and I went ice skating last weekend. It was not a planned thing but every time we go to our nearby shopping mall we are amazed to see a bunch of kids simply enjoying flying like butterflies on ice skates. It was a fantasy for us, something that we always wanted to try. This time when we went there we noticed a small kid taking her first lessons. Hmm, we heard the instructor tell her – bring your hands up perpendicular to the floor, look ahead, bend your knees, balance your body and move on, just do it!
I tried skating with her. When we took our first step, both of us fell down and by the way so did my husband! After trying a few times and in spite of knowing that I would fall on my butt I was fearful of hurting myself. What if I fell and broke my nose, jaw or my teeth? What if I broke my backbone by falling down in a sitting position. My mind filled with fears and that stopped me from trying again and again, I did depend on the side bars and took a few steps around the corners but couldn’t gain the courage to leave the side bar and move to the center of the floor. But when I looked at the kid she was enjoying, no matter how many times she slipped and fell, she stood up straight and tried again and again and got to the center of the floor. I was surprised to see that. Because I have seen kids normally cry when they fell down. But I could see her charming smiling face especially with the wind flicking across her cheeks when she skated. I could see, there was no fear in her mind. No fear of falling, no fear of failure which kept her moving ahead and she conquered the floor!
Seeing her it struck me that I have to get rid of the my fear in my mind to move ahead like her. Fear of failure is stopping me from believing in my ability to control my body. So I made myself believe that failures are ok!
Failures are OK? That is something uncommon and mostly unaccepted phenomenon in the workplace! and I know, for some people in their life too!
Now let me ask you, Are you a person who wants to have success in your first attempt itself in whatever you do? If yes, then I would say you fear failure. But you are not gonna agree with that. Are you? And if you say, that this means you are competitive! That is bulls@#t! I am not buying it!
No one likes to be seen as a loser and often don’t dare to see what failure looks like. This can because people are afraid of failures and to go through the embarrassment that results from failure. And they worry about what others will think or talk about them when they fail and are more concerned with the aftermath of failure! Which is of no use!
This makes people not take risks or to take an easy path. Which doesn’t take them anywhere and doesn’t let them conquer new challenges and gain new skills and knowledge. Unlike how the kid did.
“Failure! That is not in my dictionary”. I heard these words proudly being bragged by a manager who I recently met. May be he is that confident or may be he is just blindly bragging to get some fame. But I don’t care. All I care about – Is this the attitude that he expects from his team members? So what if one of them drastically failed in any assignment, how he is going to encourage him and motivate other team members?
Creating a work culture and work relationships where failures are often discussed, accepted and appreciated is much more significant than applauding ones success. Leaders who openly share their stories of failure and the lessons they learned from those experiences help their team and employees believe in him as a person and his strengths too. That will help your employees openly share their problems and even mistakes in a relaxed manner.
That will help them realize that it is not success that matters every time but it is the hardship you go through to attain some thing different, something outside of your expertise that matters a lot. And if you failed in that endeavor, it is ok. But not giving up on it and learning from the experience that gives you the courage to move on and to conquer something very valuable that you can take with you in the future.
And for the record, I started gaining my confidence on the Ice skating floor. So what about you, do you have any failure stories to share?