Why We Should Embrace Failure
We don’t often talk about failure.
It’s a thing to fear and avoid.
Our culture inherently conditions us to frame failure as a negative; so much so that admitting our own weaknesses or limitations innately positions us at the top a slippery slope; one false move and we could lose our steady footing. So afraid of plummeting, we don’t take risks or step outside our comfort zone; we can’t admit when we are wrong or create space for new ideas and perspectives…because if we fail, we risk discrediting the persona we have so carefully crafted.
Yet, through all of our efforts to avoid failing, we forget about the process of succeeding. In avoiding our own limitations, we actually limit ourselves.
I started to think about this when writing the methods chapter of my thesis. As most researchers will experience (whether they admit it or not), there are a lot of challenges and tensions in the field, particularly when engaged in work within a culture outside one’s own. Except no one really writes about it. There’s no dialogue on how to work though challenges with humility, but rather they are often diluted or rationalized. But by not acknowledging our struggles, we cannot fully learn from them.
Why we should embrace failure
We cannot live our true story if we only share the best excerpts.
I started to openly write about my experiences and how I navigated the difficulties I had encountered during my study and realized the power of transparent authenticity. It not only creates space for reflexivity and self-development, but for experiential knowledge to be passed on to others.
It links intention to action.
So how does this relates to social media, to blogging and to all of the platforms we use today? We all know how powerful the internet is and how it has the potential to connect us and to create change in so many ways. Yet we see this same careful curation of words and images and appearances among many leaders and influencers. Talking about failure and struggle is uncommon, simply because it is ingrained in us to strive for greatness (and the power which comes neatly packaged within it).
On the contrary, it is actually our struggles which make us stronger. Fear, grief, sadness, melancholy, uncertainty, apprehension; they are part of the human spectrum of emotions.
They don’t make us fail, they make us human.
In being authentic with my audience, I shared a most recent ‘failure’ in my spring travel update. I wanted to be real and I wanted to challenge the idea of what it means to fail by reframing my own failure as a gift.
Perhaps through talking about our struggles, we can start to see how the experience of ‘failure’ can connect us to one another, evolving what we perceived as a negative experience into one of connectivity and positivity.
There is nothing without challenge. This year and the amazing women I am working with in Tanzania have taught me that much. But isn’t that part of the process? This journey of life we are all on?
The bravest thing you can do, is to keep trying; continuing through the moments of self-doubt or the fear of failure. When you feel like life has given you every reason to give up…those are the exact moments to keep going. You may not know it, but you are on the verge of break though.
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