Failure Vs. Feedback


Most people fear failure. There are many things that I have not tried in my life since I was afraid of “failing”. Fear of failure can cause “action paralysis” where people do not even try something new or something out of their comfort zone. There are a lot of cultural references that reinforce a negative association with failure such as the common phrase  “Failure is not an option”.

I want to be careful not to overgeneralize. Of course we want people to do their best to make goods, services and infrastructure as safe as possible. No one wants airplanes to fall out of the sky or for buildings to “fail” due to poor construction.

The importance re-examining the concept of “failure” is that “failure” can be looked at as a form of feedback about our performance.  For example, if you “failed” a math test you could a) review the test answers to see which concepts you need to study or b) you can view yourself as a “failure” who is not good at math. The first option is most likely to lead to a better grade on the next exam.

When we set personal goals on where we want to achieve in our lives, it is important to be flexible in our thinking and realize that when things do not go exactly how we imagine they would, that these situations provide feedback on how we may need to adjust our plans to move forwards. When we acknowledge the feedback that life provides, we are more likely to move forward and continue to perform actions towards attaining our goals.

Our feelings about “Failure” are often connected with our internalized beliefs about ourselves. It is very important to reflect our your personal beliefs and move away from beliefs where we see ourselves as “failures”.


8 Comments to “Failure Vs. Feedback”

  1. Great post Andrew 🙂 I find a good way to see failure as either ‘not passing’ or ‘not succeeding’, but also to make failure become feedback so that you always have something to learn or improve on.

    I have always enjoyed that quote from Robert Allen ‘There is no failure. Only feedback’. It help to realize that failure only becomes failure if we think of ourselves as the failure. But if we choose to think of it as ‘not winning’ in a fun way we don’t dwell so much on internalizing that we have no use or value in the world.

    i found out that the word ‘failure’ was actually a word to explain how someone feels as opposed to actually being one. As a person i don’t think i would/could ever use the world failure in my life *stands away from it* lol. Feedback is awesome.

  2. “Failure is success turned inside out,” as one of my teachers, many years ago, said. We never fail when we learn from something… Great post, Jay

  3. I can relate to this article influence. Sometimes the fear of failure is paralyzing! I’ve always been sensitive to criticism and hypercritical of myself when I do things.

    • Thanks for the comment. That reminds me about a quote about courage. “Feel the Fear and do it anyway”. I believe I heard that from Jack Canfield. I believe that it is tricky to view ourselves as being separate from our ideas. If someone “attacks” our ideas, we may take that “attack” personally.

  4. Failure is a gift! You ge to learn from it. Thanks for the post.

    Sue Bock

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