Are you shouting about your failures?
Updated: May 28, 2020
Being comfortable with failure is a fast track way to gaining success...
Further to my article about "Your message", I got to thinking about my own message and how that affects those around me.
I like to think that, generally, my message is measured, I’ll always apply some common sense thinking to pretty much every scenario that comes my way and I think the general energy I emit is that of positivity. We all have our off days, and I’m no different. My desire to think is both a help and a hindrance as, on occasion, overthinking can be the enemy of action.
But I got thinking about what if your message and what you emit is negative and portrays your weaknesses? Is this always a bad thing?
The short answer? No, definitely not a bad thing.
Failure = weakness - Not True
I was introduced to this concept by a happy accident from someone I respect greatly and it’s something that I instantly connected with. Its premise comes from the idea that as a race, Humans love talking about success, but most have a very different relationship with talking about failure or weakness. Somewhere along the line, we’ve been taught to hide them. It’s even prevalent in some people’s interview technique. “What are your weaknesses?”, and variations thereof, is a common question and yet all the literature you read on how to answer this question tell you to turn a weakness into a strength such as “I’ve been told I’m too organised” (As if you ever could be) or “I’ve never been great at Academia so I’ve always had to work harder than everyone else to achieve good grades” (I’ve used that one myself early in my career).
But it’s quite a negative way to approach it as basically it’s asking you to hide your real weaknesses from view. They’ll most likely come out at some point along the way anyway so you might as well be forthcoming with them but that relies heavily on the person consuming your information to be ready to deal with it. A big leap of faith. (I’ve got a different and much better way to answer that question, a way that helps both the interviewee stand out from the crowd and the interviewer get a real sense of the person in front of them – reach out to me if you want to learn more).
The answer? Well, it inevitably always lies in the truth. There’s no difference here but I’ll explore that in more depth in a future article on Modern day job searching.
I think this concept of hiding failure is also true in day-to-day business. We’re all pre-programmed to shout about our successes (some of us are not even that great at doing that) and hide our failures and weaknesses away. I’m not for a second suggesting you stop talking about your success, far from it. All I want to do is ask you to consider, what would happen if you started shouting about your failures too?
To me, business in any form, is built around trust. End of. There’s no ethical business without trust. So surely, if you are talking about your failures as openly as your successes, this is a path to gaining full trust from the people you deal with, internally and externally?
After all, news flash, none of us are perfect.
There’s two things I can use to help me justify my thought process.
If you read any book by a successful entrepreneur, they have a very open relationship with failure. In fact, they welcome it. Failure leads to learning which makes you stronger individually and as a business.
In Neuro Linguistic Programming, there’s an idea based around the words “There’s no failure, only feedback”. It’s so true. Take the feedback, learn from it, move forward.
Fear of failure is one of the most common mental states that people suffer from, and it’s incredibly restrictive to leading a fulfilled life in work and at play.
It’s a massive step to take for any business or individual. Celebrate the failure’s as much as your successes and I’d argue your credibility and trustworthiness are in a place where people want to do business with you. To achieve this, you’ve also got be comfortable taking responsibility for it.
Another big step to take.
Thank you for reading.