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Thankful for failure


By Michelle Post

In an article titled 17 Unusual Things to be Thankful for in Life, the author said this about failure: “Most of us are afraid to fail because we see it as a sign of weakness and worthlessness, but with the right mindset you can take failure and turn it into something for which to be thankful.”

I can honestly say when I was growing up, I was never taught to be thankful for failure; instead, failure was a sign of weakness. If I failed, it meant I did not try hard enough. I know now that is a closed mindset. For it was the times I failed that caused me to grow. Without failure I could not realize my strengths and my weaknesses.

Unfortunately, our society has gone from one extreme perspective on failure to another. We go from failure being terrible, to the current trends of “fail forward, fail fast, fail often or fail early.” I agree that the concept of failure needs to be viewed from the perspective of a growth mindset; however, if we do not teach the reasons for failing fast, often and early, we are missing the entire point of failing. It is okay to fail, but what did you gain from the experience? It is not about just failing. It is about learning and growing.

Being thankful for failure not only applies to one’s personal life but one’s business life too. Let’s say a business owner runs a series of Facebook ads, and they did not achieve what they were hoping for. Is it a failure or is it an opportunity to learn why the ad did not do well? A closed mindset would call it a failure and would not gain insights from the failed ad, and the business owner would lose both their time and money. A growth mindset would make an analysis, determine why the ad failed, make changes, and run a new ad. We only fail if we think we fail, but we can always learn if we have a willingness of heart to learn.

So how do you create a mindset to be thankful for failure? First, acknowledge that failure is a part of life and business. Second, face the failure with an open mindset. Third, feel the failure. And what I mean by this is realize it is okay to go through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). A simpler way of saying this is “there is a time to be upset, and then there is a time to learn and let go.” Finally, please take what you have learned from the failure and use it to improve. British adventurer Bear Grylls says it this way: “Failures are the essential doorways to pass through to reach our dreams and succeed.”

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