In a culture that idolises success, it's time to shift our perspective and recognise the importance of failure in personal growth and well-being. This article explores the power of embracing failure and provides 5 actionable tips to turn failures into opportunities for success.
The other night, I engaged in a virtual discussion with friends to explore matters of personal significance. This timely gathering, occurring on a Friday evening, provided a respite from the burdens of the passing week. As we delved into each other's lives through the medium of technology, i.e. Zoom, a sense of relief and connection emerged. Through shared smiles and stories, our ideas, dreams, and hopes gained a tangible reality. This experience exemplifies what I refer to as "holding space" for one another.
During this conversation, I disclosed, for the first time, my personal interpretation of the concept of "Permission to Fail." In a supportive and understanding environment, I ventured to reveal a vulnerable aspect of myself that had previously remained concealed. This experience underscores the importance of creating safe spaces for individuals to express their innermost thoughts and emotions. And for this, I am grateful.
Allow me to go broader. We live in a culture that values success above all else. We are constantly told that we need to be the best, the brightest, and the most successful. This can lead to a lot of pressure, and it can be easy to feel like we are not good enough if we don't achieve our goals.
But what if we gave ourselves permission to fail forward? What if we allowed ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them? What if we saw failure as a necessary part of the journey not only to success but to also healing?
I believe that giving ourselves permission to fail is one of the most important things we can do for our mental health and well-being. Here are five reasons why:
1. Failure is a learning opportunity:
When we fail, we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and grow as individuals. We can use our failures to help us identify our weaknesses and areas where we need to improve.
2. Failure helps us to build resilience:
When we experience failure, we learn how to cope with setbacks and disappointments. This helps us to become more resilient and better able to handle future challenges.
3. Failure can lead to success:
Sometimes, failure can be the catalyst for success. When we fail, we are often motivated to try harder and achieve our goals. This can lead to us eventually achieving success.
It is important to note that failure alone does not lead to success. It is however dependent on learning from the failure and applying that new information in a way that progresses us towards success.
4. Failure helps us to connect with others:
When we fail, we often find that others have experienced similar failures. This can help us to connect with others and build relationships.
5. Failure can help us to find our purpose:
Sometimes, failure can help us to find our purpose in life. When we fail, we are often forced to re-evaluate our goals and priorities. This can lead us to discover what we are truly passionate about and what we want to do with our lives.
Giving ourselves permission to fail is not easy. It takes courage to admit that we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes. But it is worth it. When we give ourselves permission to fail, we open ourselves up to the possibility of learning, growth, and success.
In her article, ‘The power of failure: fostering resilience and creativity in academia, a case study with research students’, Dr. Nici Sweaney introduced her students to a fortnightly assessment process in order to help them complete their thesis. Rather than being marked by how well they stuck to the plan, they were instead marked by how well they were able to identify and manage failure. Among many positive findings, this research also found that by failing early and failing often throughout their thesis delivery journey, students gained the ability to work successfully through failure.
While failure is encouraged, it is important to note that on its own, it will not lead to success. However, when we open ourselves up to see the lessons within our mistakes, we ultimately invite success.
Therefore, we need to start valuing failure as a necessary part of the journey to success. We need to create a culture where it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them. When we do this, we will be creating a more compassionate and understanding world, and we will be helping people to reach their full potential.
How will you give yourself permission to fail in order not only to succeed but to also cultivate a positive wellbeing?
Dorcas Maphakela is a writer, visual artist and holistic well-being advocate, using art and words to share knowledge and inspiration on living a full life. She is also a TV presenter, public speaker and founder and producer of the Antenna Award-winning OZ AFRICAN TV (OATV). Alongside her role with Multicultural Arts Victoria, Dorcas co-founded Yo CiTY, a platform that champions the culturally diverse experience through Art & music. Dorcas is an Academic Screen Lecturer at the University of Melbourne. She studied Fine Arts and Master of Arts in Writing.