The Difference Between Failure and Failing
Fails are proof you have tried something new, gone outside of your comfort zone or on the path of discovery. Failing is a part of every day life. Failure is the speed bumps that help us correct our path.
Fails are not necessarily a bad thing, I happen to think it is a great opportunity. Thank goodness I have had the fails that I have for that has helped me improve, grow and gain greater value. Had I succeeded then I might have stayed at a status quo.
That would have meant stagnation.
Had I stopped trying and not worked through the fails, then I would have had a failure.
Failure is not trying. Failure is giving up. Failure is accepting status quo in order not to move forward. Failure is not fun.
However if you utilize a fail as it is truly presented – as feedback, then you really do not have failure. You have opportunity.
To avoid fails or failure would be to know everything. I have yet to meet the person that knows everything. Although I have met some that think they do, but that is a different story. We don’t know everything. It is not our nature; it is not a one-stop shop. We are continuing to learn, to improve to grow personally and professionally.
I absolutely love what I do, I love working with clients one on one and transforming their personal brand, creating resumes, LinkedIn profiles, coaching, giving seminars and workshops. As long as I have been doing this and as often as I write, speak and coach I still learn every day.
I still have fails every day. When I first started it would freak me out when I had a fail. I took it personally seeing it as a negative. Then I realized a very simple thought: you cannot learn multiplication without understanding addition, in learning addition you learn by mistakes. I come from a very mathematical family so bear with the example.
When children lean addition the have to understand the concept, try it out, practice, miss some and learn from this. Once they master addition it leads the way to subtraction, multiplication and division. The world begins to open up from that one concept.
Think you have mastered multiplication? Great, now it is time to move on to Algebra. Got that mastered? Awesome, let’s move on to Calculus. Get the point? It is a continuum.
If you had a phone interview and feel like you bombed it, stop beating yourself up and start looking at it as a learning opportunity. Remove yourself from the experience and look at it as a postmortem. Where was a fail, how could you have improved, what can you do differently next time, what lead to it and how can you avoid it the next time?
There – you have turned a fail into a positive. You now know how to handle the situation the next time. Next time you will improve on your technique, clarify your language or message. You did not fail, you learned.
It is a simple concept but difficult to employ. No one wants to admit they failed. It could be seen as weakness. Weakness is unwillingness to change, grow or learn.
I had to pretty much force myself into this way of thinking. I’m an overly analytical person and my own worst critic. Others may think I did a great job on a talk and I can tell you the five things I did wrong. I always looked at it as a negative, very critical of myself.
So when I finally got that fails were opportunities, I had to practice. This is yet another reason I love my dogs. I could turn to them and say, “Well, that was a big ol’ fail.” They would look at me with happy puppy eyes, wagging tails and I could swear I could read their minds saying, “Yes, but it is over – can we have a biscuit?”
If the dogs could see it was done and over and it did not scare them for life, I could too. So I would dutifully hand out biscuits to the pups, write down the “fail” (remember the over-analytical part of me? It doesn’t give up lists or writing things down) and play devil’s advocate.
Was it really life-scaring? How was it a fail, what could I do next time in that situation, how could I avoid that situation in the future and most importantly – what did I learn from this.
Then I would file it away as lesson learned and move on with my day.
I have failed many times in my life, I have failed daily – but I am not a failure. Because with each one I have learned, gained understanding, appreciation and positioned myself to not make that mistake again. That, my friends, is on the whole other end of failure.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Brand Strategist, Career Coach
Certified Professional Resume Writer