Wouldn’t we all love to say we got an “A” in everything?
That we succeeded in all we set out for?
That everyone loved everything we did?
If only that were the case.
I recently read a book called the “Gift of Failure,” and though it was a wonderful read, the title continues to stick with me as it is so much a part of everyday life.
The “gift” of failure is a gift indeed. Though we cuss and mope and cry and scream when we fail, ultimately, we learn something. We learn what to do differently next time. We learn how to approach someone in a new way. We learn to be more open minded, more forthright, less vocal or more compassionate. Maybe we learn to be more stern, less hyper or more calm.
Like all of you, I hold many roles in my life; mother, wife, boss, colleague, friend, daughter, sister, board member, etc.
How many of us can claim we succeeded every day, in each or even one or two of our roles?
We all can. Because, even in our failures, we win.
A relationship ending may seem earth shattering, but if we dissect what went wrong, maybe we won’t end up in that same type of relationship next time. If we “let our inside voice come out” (as I often do) in a meeting, we learn how people reacted and what it gained us or how it did not serve us well. If we “lose it” and yell at our children, we beat ourselves up and it makes us try harder tomorrow. If we slip and eat or drink something we wish we hadn’t, we feel ashamed and guilty and tomorrow we try to live up to our own expectations with more tenacity.
If we let it, failure can be life’s best teacher.
Be gentle on yourself. Try harder tomorrow. No one is perfect. Let your kids fail while they are with you at home to be guided and let them learn from their failures and yours. Let your friends fail and hold their hand as they cry, then encourage them. Give your boss or employees space to fail now and then. After all is said and done, be firm and advocate for yourself or sit someone down and explain your thought process, let them know how they affected the work.
Give people space to be imperfect.
It is my firm belief that many of us walk around with a face and persona that the outside world sees and believes is “us.”
But on the inside, many of us are very different from the person the world believes us to be.
We may be seen as confident, strong, handsome, calm, charismatic and charming, when deep down we question our every move and every word spoken, wondering if people like us. We worry about our weight or skin appearance and are afraid to speak out that we are lost and scared at where we are in life at the moment. I know some of the “strongest” women who cry at night wanting to be a better mom and feeling they are not a good wife. I know some of the most outgoing men who seem to have it all and they drink at night feeling they can never be what they want to be or what they “should” be.
I say be gentle with yourself. Be kind to others. Give each other space to stumble and fall. Don’t judge and be there when someone needs you. After all, we are only human. Humans are smart, so be smart.
Live, fail, learn, grow.
Michelle Muething is the executive director of the Aspen Hope Center and Hope Center, Eagle River Valley.