There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.
When we ‘fail’ at something, we are simply being told that what we are doing at this point in time, is for one reason or another not working. What we do once we have this information is crucial. We can either accept it as fact, put our head in the sand and give up (please don’t do that!). Or, we can decide to challenge the outcome and explore how we can better prepare ourselves and grow to overcome that scenario in the future.
A classic example is when I ask a client to try a new exercise. Let’s use a bodyweight lunge as an example.
The client does the first rep and says “ah that really hurts my knee”. So we obviously have to stop and substitute a more appropriate exercise. A common reaction that follows is a sense of disappointment and a feeling of failure. However, I always assure the client that this is not the case. All we have just found out is that a bodyweight lunge elicits knee pain. That’s it. That is not failure. We have just received feedback that at this point in time, the client’s body is not able to do this exercise.
Again, we could accept this reality and never do lunges ever again. Or, we can take a pragmatic approach and explore what we can do right now to mitigate knee pain while still working towards lunging in the future. The latter is what I do. Let’s attempt to isolate the source of the knee pain, and use lunge variations and regressions until we can elicit the same muscular response. As long as we do this, there is no failure.
Another example could be someone trying to lose weight. Say they have been super strict with a low carb diet, following it to a tee. They have done all their meal prep and haven't missed a single meal on their plan. Yet after one month, they cannot see or feel any results at all.
A common reaction could be a sense of failure. When in reality, all that person has discovered is that this diet is not working, that's it. It's not because they are inadequate or haven't put the effort in. It is simply because for whatever reason, that particular diet does not work for them. So all this person would have to do is explore a different approach. Perhaps they look into a low fat diet, blood group diet or paleo. By being pragmatic, working with what you have and what you can do right now, you cannot fail.
Failure is simply an opportunity for learning. Learning from what we cannot do right now helps us build systems and support networks around our weak points. That makes failure sound pretty important right? That’s because it is. Failure is a part of life. And it is our reaction to failure that will determine our success.
So don’t run from failure, anticipate it, and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. You’ve got this!