Seth Godin offers an interesting perspective on failure – It’s all about your attitude. Some successful people feel that they are failures. They are never happy with their work even when it is good. Such thinking is a trap. People lost in feelings of failure keep looking for an ever elusive success.
Godin is not saying we should be happy with failure, but that we should know how to work through failures and deliver. His books The Dip and Poke the Box are necessary reads for anyone who’s caught up in the failure trap. Successful people fail before they find a way to succeed. Or, as Godin puts in The Dip, they know how to quit the right things. If you’re doing the right kind of work for the right reason, the feelings of failure will still come now and then. But they won’t be how you define yourself. Take joy in your work and your life.
In our careers and personal lives, we all face challenges. The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden captured this problem and how to face it: "Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."
A few of my clients cannot move on on their career because they spend too much time and energy looking back on lost opportunities or mistakes. I try to motivate them to look forward rather than backward. Living in the past is never a good solution. As Coach Wooden said, we are all capable of change.
Today is Woody Allen's 79th birthday. When he was an undergraduate at NYU, Allen failed a course in film making. That bump in the road did not stop him from becoming one of the most acclaimed directors of all time. Allen's story is not unusual. Many successful people failed a course or were told that they would never succeed. They believed in themselves and proved their critics wrong. Believe in yourself. If you know a young person who is struggling with confidence, be encouraging and supportive. Getting an F in a class or being fired is not the end of the world. In fact, for Woody Allen, it was the start of a great career.