Saturday, 6 October 2012

Failure (Part 3)

By: James Kyle

The first tool in reframing our approach to "failure" is awareness. In this context especially awareness of Self talk. Just being aware is a tool? Yes! Consider the rich spiritual tradition of meditation techniques such as Zen mindfullness. This is not trivial - simple awareness practiced with honesty and consistency can in itself transform our lives.

First of all: Be aware of self criticism
Then: Reframe your self talk.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Edison

"We are not retreating - we are advancing in another Direction." General Douglas MacArthur

On one level you may think this is playing with words but on another level if you really get this, you start to hold reality a different way in your consciousness - remember we create our own maps of reality which in turn determine our experience of our reality.

The second tool is acceptance, especially self acceptance. Without full self acceptance we move into denial then awareness is not possible. Awareness and acceptance work in harmony together because we also use awareness to move out of self judgment and into deeper levels of acceptance. And yes, this is a choice we all have - we can choose not to be judgmental towards ourselves - the first step is to be aware of the judgment. Realize that at times we put ourselves down in ways we wouldn't dream of doing to anyone else. Instead we can choose to be kind to ourselves. Also learn to see things in perspective - often we laugh about something terrible that happened a year previously - Here’s a thought: why not start laughing right away.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald  said, "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."

The third and final tool is to get into the habit of taking stretches out of your comfort zone. For many people public speaking is a big stretch. At first this was certainly true for me. But guess what, I stepped out of my comfort zone and what was challenging became fun - and a useful skill as well. Also in my past, despite serious health problems at the time, I persevered in learning how to scuba dive and was rewarded not only by the experience of diving itself but also increased self respect by not allowing myself to be limited by circumstances. 

Someone once offered me this magic phrase: if you can’t you must. I now apply it in many different ways in my day to day life. In the early days when giving speeches in public I found this challenging. However I choose to see this as a opportunity to grow and learn new skills rather than something to be avoided. What would challenge you? Bungee jumping, rollerblading, sky diving, salsa dancing, art, stand up comedy, acting. I encourage you to learn that it is safe to move out of your comfort zone and as a consequence that it is OK to make mistakes.

The secret to taking stretches like this is to see them as adventures in learning. If we allow ourselves to be a beginner and a learner, then failure transmutes into feedback on our current learning assignment. Then one day it strikes us why don’t I take this attitude to my entire life and see all of my life as a journey of learning. And in this way we come to realize that mistakes and failures are simply the universe’s way of providing us with further learning opportunities - and we see the world through new eyes and all judgment disappears.

I will leave you with this final thought and something to always remember: "A winner loses more often than losers."