Reframing Failure

Let’s face it – ‘FAIL’ is a four letter word. It’s rarely a helpful word. It’s a word with very negative connotations. It is often misused, especially when we are talking to ourselves. In my opinion (humble or otherwise) we’d be better off without the word.

When we think that we have failed, we are likely to automatically feel badly. (Thinking and feeling are inextricably intertwingled! For more on how our thoughts and our feelings are connected, read about the Universal Law of the Funnel.) So if the word ‘fail’ makes us feel badly, we should try to reframe or rename failures when they occur.

Some folks can spiral from a single ‘failure’ into a seemingly bottomless pit of despair. At some point some people choose to stop trying, rather than feel the disappointment of another failure. So, what would happen if, rather than stopping trying, we stopped using that four letter word?

Plenty of successful people have found it helpful to change how they think about the word fail. If we change how we think about it, our feelings about it will also change. (Yes, thinking and feeling are connected. See link above.)

It is said that Thomas Edison saw failures as indications that an adjustment was necessary. What happens when you see a failure as an invitation to try again? Well in Edison’s case, you eventually invent the incandescent light bulb and the phonograph!

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” – Thomas Edison

American industrialist, Henry Ford also looked at failure in a positive and productive way. As Ford reframed the idea of failure, it served as a source if intellect. Failure has the power to make us smarter, if we choose to see it that way!

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Failure is a given. It will happen. But if we decide to think differently about failure, we’ll feel differently about failure, and we’ll act differently as a result! When failure is an indication, and invitation, or an education, it’s not our foe – it’s our friend!

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