“Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.” -Martha Beck
I really like this quote–it makes failure seem less frightening. In fact, it makes it seem like a positive thing. I’d never thought about failure as part of my success, but now that I have, I know I can deal with it.
One of the things I always tell my kids is, “We learn by our mistakes,” meaning that it’s okay to do something stupid once in a while if, in the end, you’ve learned something from it. For example, over the winter my nine-year-old decided he didn’t want to wear his heavy coat to school. Instead of fighting with him about it, I let him make that choice (though I did warn him I didn’t think it was a very wise decision). So he went to school and when he came home, he talked about how cold he’d been at the bus stop and during recess. But, you know, he’s never gone without a coat since. In fact, he’s sure to wear a hat and mittens as well as a warm jacket on cold days because he never wants to experience that level of discomfort again. No nagging on my part, and a lesson well-learned for him.
In a sense, this quote is similar. It gives me permission to fail and learn by my mistakes. It’s especially poignant for me right now because–for the fourth time in my life–I’m doing Weight Watchers. In the past, I’ve gone off the diet at a certain point for whatever reason, and then–because of my failure to stick with it, I consider myself hopeless and regain the weight I’d lost. But by using Martha Beck’s philosophy, I won’t give up completely as I have in the past. Instead, I can give myself permission to relax, accept the failure–briefly–and then return to my healthy eating and exercise plan. If I do this, I’ll be able to succeed in spite of my failures.
How can you apply this quote to your life?