The fear of failure, feeling foolish, doing something wrong, and/or not meeting expectations is real for most of us. Growing up, we have been evaluated in school by either passing or failing exams, winning or losing a sports game, and winning or losing business. The loss or failure is judged by others, and we have labeled it as a negative experience. Being stuck in negative experiences drains us of energy, and we become focused on protecting our ego.
The time for us to shift our mindset is now. The reality is that we need to experience failure because it provides data, insight, and creates new opportunities.
So, how can we trip and not fall during a negative experience?
1. Acknowledge our emotions:
When we are learning something new, failure may bring emotions of fear and judgement, and we try to protect our egos. The more experience we have with a certain task allows us to feel less threatened. By acknowledging the emotions that are coming up during a negative experience, we can process the emotion, pause, and decide what to do next.
2. Reframe our thoughts:
During a negative experience, we all have automatic thoughts, the knee-jerk reactions. Thoughts could include: I am not good enough, I am in trouble, It’s my fault that they are upset, or the project failed… If we acknowledge our emotions, we can step back and reframe the thought. When reframing our thoughts, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself: 1. Is this thought actually valid/true? 2. Am I overreacting or exaggerating the problem? 3. Is there another way I could look at the situation?
3. Select a way forward:
A reframed thought provides space to select a productive thought and allows a way forward. To reframe failure, maybe we look at failure as data because the outcome was different than expected. What can this failure show us? Moving forward uses the learning to create a new and different way forward, helping us focus on the success.
As leaders, we will trip from time to time and we will fail. When we acknowledge our emotions, reframe our thoughts, and select a way forward, failure becomes opportunity. Jennifer Maxson & Associates coaching can provide the support needed to lean in to learning from failure.
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