Tag Archives: #failure

Constant Gentle Pressure

Check out this article first at this link

The idea that it is life’s job to keep moving the salt shaker off the center of the table and my job to keep putting it back at the center – is so to the point.

I knew about this article in 2010 when Prof.Rao from CPM institute narrated this to us in London Business School. Recently, I remembered this article while preparing for the Wild Tiger Tees (WTT) team meeting. We have been up and running since August last year (I know it has not been that long), and I have tried to implement a lot of things (maybe a bit prematurely), and most of them have failed. Yes, I admit it. For a project manager and a driver like me, I had a tough time grappling with the inability to get things done. A few tries later (Quite a few tries) then I came to few realizations

  • We are doing this on a volunteer basis and mission is to support the youth.
  • There is entirely no point in beating myself over things in WTT because there is nothing at stake – we are making a difference.
  • Just because things do not work does not mean you stop trying.

The third point is why my mind dug up this article from the archives and brought it to the forefront of my mind chatter. Once I made peace with the situation, it became a lot easier. Now, I was open to trying different ways to make it work – it was like a game or a puzzle. I was trying to pick and see which piece would fit the best and then move on the next bit so that we can see the entire picture.

Lots of lessons in this one – Failure was a must for me to move on to the next step. The next step was the discovering that there is no need to treat every situation like a nail just because I have a hammer. Once I let go of the attachment to the outcomes I automatically starting exploring different ideas – creativity arose. And from there pure joy and well-being.

Life is pretty much the same way. Sometimes you have to keep chugging along even if the results are not there, but you know that it is the right track. The way our society shapes us we never fail enough. It is just not a done thing – however many books you may read, however many studies are out there which tell us that it is ok to fail. I take failure personally. Maybe it is time to rejoice the failures because then we can be unfettered in our next moves. Sometimes it might be best to fail and get the pressure out of the way so that you are free to experiment.

Yoda was right when he said – do or do not; there is no trying. If something fails then do something else – any beating yourself up, wasting time on what-ifs is not worth it.

What will you keep doing now?

Fear of Failure

1#. An Adult is trying to learn gymnastics and during the back flip practice which she was able to do so well last class – she falls down.

2#. An adult is trying to learn swimming and is having trouble blowing bubbles into water. So she does the bare minimum she can and then leaves the class and does not think about it until next class.

3#. A little baby is trying to walk and she falls umpteen times before she gets the hang of it.

What do you think is the difference between the above three examples or before we get there what’s the one thing that’s common across them? It’s really simple – they are all trying to learn something new.

Now, let’s explore the differences – primarily in mind chatter
1. Gymnastics: Oh, My god! I did this last week and now I suck at it. I can never get this done. Why did I even think that I could do this? I should just quit.
2. Swimming: I am the only adult in the pool. Look at all the other kids – they can swim better than me. My instructor probably thinks I am a fool for even trying. I just want the class to be over so that I can stop thinking about what a failure I am.
3. Baby: Blah! Blah! Blah! ..makes gurgling noises. Basically no mind chatter.

Imagine if the baby also thought like the 1#, 2#. I can never walk.I keep stumbling so many times. All I want is to just go to my toy and I cannot even do that.

Can you imagine any baby ever walking with that kind of mind chatter. Something happens as we grow up. Essentially there is no difference between the three example before – we are learning something new and we will fall, be scared of it but instead of trying to do more of it and be upbeat about it we just berate ourselves.

If we think about logically, if we are trying something new then the best thing to do is to do it as much as you can and fail fast and fail as often as we can.

But there is a fear of failure which is a strong mental model in our society. You cannot fail a class – what will others say? You cannot make a mistake at work – it will count against your performance. This subconsciously makes it way in our heads as we grow up and we imbibe this fear of failure and apply it to ourselves like a freebie.

What does this mean for us then? Well, to begin with do one thing a day that scares you. And once you know what scares you just go for it and do it as often as you can. And tell your mind chatter – it’s ok.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash

And Celebrate and be proud of yourself when the following happens.