I can be a real nincompoop sometimes.
I’ve been getting the Experience L!fe magazine for months now, ever since I signed up with Lifetime Fitness. But for myriad foolish reasons, I have not taken the time to read it.
This weekend I am correcting that mistake and realizing what I’ve been missing.
Yesterday I wrote about four quick lessons for sustained weight loss that I learned in the most recent issue.
Today, I want to offer up a few ideas from Jessie Sholl in this month’s issue that, when embraced, guarantee personal growth by enabling us to to fail better.
1. Acknowledging faults shows integrity.
As Sholl writes:
Being able to admit when one is wrong is a sign of strength precisely because it’s so difficult. Most of us don’t want to reveal our misjudgments any more than we want to take off our clothes in public.
Well Ms. Sholl, guess what? I was so inspired by your article that I flipped this thought on its head and got naked at the library while writing the intro to this post, in which I admitted being a jackwagon for not reading more of the articles in the magazine.
How’s that for integrity?
[Side note: I did not really get naked in public while writing this.]
This is the #1 takeaway for me from the article and fits in quite well with the concept of balancing pride and humility.
As acknowledging error shows humility and integrity, it also helps strengthen these qualities.
Pride and ego are great motivators for driving us to do our best, but they often get in the way of us fulfilling our potential, especially when they prevent honest self-evaluation and a willingness to acknowledge our mistakes.
Admitting we made a mistake, or that we can improve in a certain area, is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength, maturity, and integrity.
And we could all probably stand to do it more.
2. To be successfully creative, you must be willing to fail.
Anything creative is, by its very nature, risky.
Creating is bringing into the world something – an idea, a piece of art, a theory, etc. – that is unique. Failure could occur before the final product is finished, or it could occur when the reaction of its intended audience or market is lukewarm or negative.
Sholl quotes author Tim Harford as saying the following:
The only way to avoid mistakes is to play it really safe, and that’s no recipe for creativity.
And a dearth of creativity is a recipe for a boring, staid, uninspiring world.
Embrace risk and the possibility for failure. Embark forward anyway. Create.
And if it flops, learn from it and help it inspire the next creation.
3. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Fun admission: while typing that out, I had the Kelly Clarkson tune playing in my head. Just thought you should know.
And the lovely Ms. Clarkson has a great point with those words.
Unless a mistake or failure is going to be the proximate cause of our demise, or that of someone else, so what?
In fact, there is a good chance that the failure, and a genuine willingness to embrace its eternal possibility, will actually breed stronger skills in the long run.
Sholl references social psychologist Carol Dweck’s idea of the “growth mindset,” which is possessed by people who “believe their talents and abilities can be developed over time through effort, dedication, instruction, and mentoring.” These people embrace challenges with pride and then humbly learn from their mistakes before persevering, improving, and moving forward.
Whenever we try to reach higher, do more, or try something different, there is a good chance we’ll fail in some way.
Lifting weights builds muscle by first breaking existing muscle down. Having a growth mindset can make this concept applicable outside of the gym in every area of our life.
I just picked out the three ideas from the article that made the most impact on me. To read the full article online, click here.
The point is simply to embrace messing up. It’s okay. In fact, it’s good.
If you aren’t ever failing, you probably aren’t ever growing either.
So if you find yourself failing to grow, be humble enough to embrace that failure and then fire up your pride to go do something outside of your comfort zone…which you’ll then probably fail at, at least at first.
It’s a great first step towards a better you.