The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail. ~ Nelson Mandela
Remember when you were a kid? When you played softball and struck out? When you played goalie on the soccer team and allowed the game-losing goal? When, as a top student, you bombed the final? When you didn’t get asked to the prom?
Okay, I’m not trying to bum you out. Failure feels really bad. Even after years have passed, we can still feel that pain in the pit of the stomach, reminding us of how that bad experience felt. But failure is one of those inconvenient and difficult facts of life.
Learning how to fail, accept and learn from it, is critical. We need to know we are okay and secure, even after a mistake. And we need to try again.
This is resiliency. Actually, I like the word buoyancy better because I see a visual image of a boat buoyantly moving on the water, floating easily with the waves, never covered for long by water, always reclaiming its place on the surface.
There are a few mistakes in my life that I remember vividly; the wrong words said in a relationship, an error at work with huge financial impact, mistakes from moving too quickly. It felt really bad each time, and I thought if time could be reversed, words retracted, then the world would be so much better!
But, with time, I can recall the lesson in each one. And I haven’t made those mistakes again. Likely never will.
I think the ability to absorb failure begins in childhood, and I wonder if it is taught rather than simply attained. If children see it is okay to strike out, to allow the goal, to get a bad grade, and are encouraged and supported through the difficulty, their sense of self will be bolstered to sustain some failure.
Mistakes and failure usually have higher stakes in adulthood than they do in childhood. But our reactions to them can mirror our reactions to our childhood mistakes. If we learn how to get up again after the failures as children, we will be better able to get up again as adults.
I wish no failure for you. But if you are going through a rough patch, or have made a mistake, I encourage you to get up and try again. It is just one stop on the path to success.
Make it a good week!