3 Ways to Fail Intelligently to Innovate Yourself

Most people tend to run from failure as though it were some kind of disease — a life sentence. Yet, it is anything but that. Failure is not only good for you, it is actually essential to your well-being, growth and how successful you could be in your life. The problem with failure is that it has a bad PR agent.

As a clinical psychologist, I work with people from all walks of life – this is by design. Although I have cultivated a diverse clientele, I have, over the past 11 years developed an interest, reputation and expertise working with people in more traditionally “creative” fields such as actors, writers, musicians, jewelry makers – often helping them figure out what is next for them when they are feeling stuck in life.

When you work with people who are constantly engaged in creative enterprises you tend to hear a lot about failure. It is part of the mental landscape. We all fail in different ways, but when you work with people who fail in ways that can literally be seen by millions of people it tends to take up a lot of mindshare. By definition, issues that take up space in my patients’ minds take up space in my mine, which is why I think about failure a lot.

I see failure as a necessary aspect of success. In order to grow and develop, we need to take risks and yes, fail. Without risk there are no mistakes. Without mistakes there is no learning and without learning there is no growth.

Here are 3 ways that can help you succeed by failing intelligently:

  1. Acknowledge Failure. If you are not failing, it means you are not trying hard enough. Failure in your working life can be immensely helpful to your career trajectory. To be truly successful, every person needs to fail at some point.  Facing our fears and failures triggers the most necessary changes in our lives. We need that extra nudge to get things going. Otherwise, we would simply sail along comfortably without making any progress.
  2. Take a Risk. Make a Mistake. Learn. Try Again. This may seem obvious or may not, but the fact is that many of us avoid taking risks, learning from them, and applying that learning to new endeavors because of certain inborn tendencies that all of us have. How else will we learn if it’s not by a trial and error? From every experience, but especially ones that don’t work out as you hope they will, ask yourself a few questions: “What can I learn from this?” “How can I apply this information to make things better?” and “How can I try again with more intelligence?”
  3. It’s All About Perspective. Being successful in any endeavor: creative, personal, or professional is not about sidestepping failure. On the contrary, it is about stepping into failure but doing so with the right perspective. Most of life is about perspective: almost all of the research done with people who are in their senior years who are happy with their lives points to this: It doesn’t matter how rich you are, how much professional success you have had or haven’t had how many tragedies you’ve endured. None of those are the primary predictors for life satisfaction. The major determining variable is perspective: knowing what matters and what to focus on. When we focus on our fears of loss and tend to blame ourselves when things don’t work out, we may miss the larger picture that is key for success.

Taking risk and putting yourself out there to the world is the only way to develop emotionally, creatively and professionally. Real growth and innovation, the one that is lasting and meaningful, comes from one thing and one thing only: FAILURE.

So welcome and embrace failure in your life and you will see how far you can get.

This article was originally published on Innovation Excellence

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