Tony Blair and Michael Gove could easily be added to this list of recent and very public failures, though I'm not sure which Spice Girls they would be ...
Whilst schadenfreude is a very human reaction, more positive responses are also possible. That's what this post is about - How other people's failures can spur you on to success.
So what are some constructive reactions to the demise of the successful? Here are a few better ones :-
"Everyone fails sometimes - so there is no reason for me to be ashamed of possible failure""Failure is part of the process of success"
"If that lot can fail, it's OK for me to fail....."
"I shouldn't even call it failure. I should reframe a setback as not reaching my target yet"
My personal favourite though isThomas Edison's response to a journalist's question about the number of attempts he had needed to invent a commercially viable lightbulb
"Mr Edison, How did it feel to fail 10,000 times?"To which Edison replied :-
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work"
`Thomas Edison Quote, photo credit to BK, Creative Commons License CC-SA-2.0
Thomas Edison's is a prime example of someone with a growth mindset
There are two basic views about success.
The first is that either you have talent or not. If you've got it, then you should succeed pretty much all the time. You shouldn't need to work at it. If you haven't got talent, there's no point even trying. This attitude is called a fixed mindset.
The other view is that talent is less important than effort. Even if you've got talent, you will need to work hard and purposefully, and you can expect to fail plenty of times on the way. If you aren't blessed with so much talent, you may still be able to reach a high level of achievement, given sufficient practice and determination. This attitude is called the growth mindset. Betty Edwards' art classes for adults who (like me!) have been told they are useless at art, but wish to see if they can improve, is a wonderful illustration of what people can achieve if they embrace a growth mindset. The before and after self-portraits of those who attended her 5 day art course are a revelation and an inspiration.
Whilst there is some evidence that at least one of the famous five mentioned in the tweet is seeing his failure in growth mindset terms, this post is designed to help you rather than them...
So what can you take from this? I think there are two main lessons.
- Don't avoid taking a risk for fear of failure
- Learn from Failure