Why we need to reframe failure
To reframe failure we need to look at ourselves
I confess I had never heard of Simon De Baene, CEO of GSOFT, until I was asked if I felt we needed to reframe failure and define what it means. Do we dramatize small mistakes and minimize big fails? I think in general terms we do.
I was sent a link to his post The Day I failed on stage at TedX to review. At the top there is a graphic of the word "failed," on a solid black background, like a funeral announcement. Wow, I thought, before I read it - what the hell happened? This is an interesting and moving piece, by a highly successful, young entrepreneur, who got stage fright while doing a TEDx talk. Yes, that's it. He got stage fright and seemingly dried up two minutes into his carefully prepared speech. This was how he failed.
But this is not about Simon it's about us.
With impeccable insight, he lists the eight emotions he went through: "shame, humiliation, anger, sadness, fear, rejection, embarrassment, and guilt." Plus a six demographic list of people he needed to apologise to: "the TEDx organizers, those present in the audience, my followers, my employees, my friends, and my family." Followed by the six lessons he learned. Mainly they are excellent lessons. Many leadership coaches would be delighted with his personal development takeaways. But one lesson stands out and highlights where we all need to reframe failure.
"No one is safe from the worst life can throw at you, and you must always be ready to confront it."
Let's be clear, getting stage fright at TEDx is embarrassing and disappointing. In twenty years time it will be a good interview story for a TV chat show when he's a global guru. Today, it's an "OMG-cringe-blush-head-in-hands-groaning-earth-swallow-me-up" type of moment. It's a good lesson to learn, especially at 30, that these things happen. And life goes on and Simon will be fine. Read: Failure the other F-word
But this is more about us
What is it about us that a blip at a TEDx talk makes a successful businessman think he needs to prepare for:
"the worst life can throw at you?"
We are all guilty of fuelling the drama around perceived failure. And we need to stop and reframe failure and what it should mean. We start applying pressure to kids to succeed in school whether academically or in other areas. F = Fail. We write people off at different stages of their lives and careers, because they don't conform to some notional template of success. And it dogs us throughout our lives and careers.
It becomes even more challenging when we do have some modicum of success.
There is something in our affluent cultures that taps into it and even enjoys seeing already successful people become unstuck. We catastrophize situations and events, that are really not catastrophes. Some do so with an element of glee and joy and even try to profit from their misfortune, wrong turn, or mistakes.
This means that the pressure we put on each other to succeed, with no margin for error at all, is inhuman. We also become uncomfortable when we are confronted with a lack of certainty. We like people to appear successful and certain, which is why according to Tony Robbins, Donald Trump has so much appeal. Happily Simon had encouragement from his audience.
The "worst" life can throw at us is epidemics, famine, natural disasters, wars, terrorist attacks, poverty, child abuse and exploitation, neglect, loss of life or limb. I could go on. [Tweet "We are getting confused about what failure really is and means."] We even reward failure, ignore it or cover it up, as we repeatedly see the exploitive actions of many of our leaders. This process of dramatization of small mistakes and the minimization of huge failures, is systemic.
No wonder Simon berates himself.
So while Simon De Baene contemplates his unfortunate experience, and I really do sympathize, perhaps we should reflect too. We need to make sure that we reframe failure in our own heads. We have to direct our energy at the fails that are important and let go the ones that are just tiny, temporary blips and need our understanding.
Nawal is a humanitarian aid worker
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
JUNE 16 TH 2020 - HOW TO MANAGE REMOTE TEAMS MORE INCLUSIVELY
Corporate Online Lockdown Learning Event - European Patent Office .
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Gender bias in networking has long existed, but with these 3 tips you can put an end to it and instead create a more inclusive space for everyone.read more
The minute your image pops up on someone screens people are looking for clues about your personality, your credibility and your competence. A strong online leadership presence is vital.read more
Daily habits to create boundaries during lockdown are vital for a number of important reasons especially to navigate work life balance during confinement. We have to find a way to make that critical separation from our working and professional selves from our other roles for our physical and mental well being.read more