How to fail effectively..

By herbert, 14.02.2021

A friend of mine pointed me to this video:

The way the singer takes the time to reassure the guitarist, resonated with me on a very deep level.
I don’t think this clip was actually aired, as it would likely be outside the format, but it fits the topic of “making mistakes” in a beautiful way.

Some time ago I wrote about how to give feedback. It dealt mostly with the “head”-side of things, and not so much the part of the heart. Said in another way: It looked at the what and how, but not so much the why.
After thinking things through some more, I realized I don’t know how to cope with mistakes very well. Basically: I’m not good at dealing with the consequences of my failures.

Just look at some of my strategies:

  • I practice very hard
  • I don’t publish (e.g. here on this blog) until I’ve reread and rewritten my text half a dozen times
  • I don’t perform for others (I play the piano a bit but don’t want to play for others much)
  • I avoid the spotlight altogether

Obviously, those are attempts to avoid failure, but there are other ways:

  • I explain that I did not have enough time to properly prepare
  • I announce disclaimers up front

And it gets worse:

  • I find external reasons (anything will do and I will explain why they are valid)
  • I find excuses and make them seem bigger than they are
  • I straight out blame others
  • I get angry at myself
  • I get angry at others
  • I disconnect

Mistakes, as well as errors, or just plain failure can often be like the proverbial elephant in the room: we all know about it but don’t want to address the topic. Many years ago I checked out the videos by a Tuber called Chosun Ninja, who addresses the difference of forgetting our mistakes and forgiving ourselves.

If you are in a leadership position (meaning that at least one other person looks to follow your example), this is likely even more the case: I would rather follow someone who displays the ability to learn (growth mindset) than one who needs to display perfection (fixed).

So how shall we then live? What are my lessons learnt?

In order to learn from our mistakes, we have to take the time to think about them ourselves, pray about them, talk about them with those who love us.

At the end of the day, take the time to make up the balance of the day: what went well, what didn’t go well at all.
Make sure to talk to God about it and ask Him what He thinks about that, and what He thinks of you.
There is stuff we should notice but didn’t, and there is stuff we notice and should not. He is a better counsellor than you are.

Also, periodically, check with your spouse and closest friends about who they think you are.
Perhaps this structure will help you frame your conversations a bit: