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How many times have you let fear stop you from trying new things? For me, this happens all the time. It is so much easier to let a fear of failure dictate what you do (or don’t do). We are taught that failing is the worst, most embarrassing thing that can ever happen. But recently, as a new mom, I have seen a whole new side of the effects of failure.
If you have ever been around a baby, toddler or any child under the age of 10? In their minds, they are invincible, geniuses. And they are (kind of). They are learning new things at a rapid pace. But they are also failing way more often they are succeeding. My daughter has tried to crawl every day for the last 2 months, and not one attempt has been successful. But it has never stopped her from continuing to try the next day.
How amazing does that sound to not be afraid of failure?! Pretty great, right?
So how do we take the child’s perspective and transfer it for us to use as adults?
FAILURE DOES NOT EQUAL EMBARRASSMENT
The beauty of kids is that they don’t see failure as embarrassing like adults do. Mostly because they have no idea that they failed. All they are taking in is that they tried something, and didn’t work quite right. And as parents, we usually clap and cheer for every little attempt they make, even if it doesn’t end in any forward progress whatsoever. Failure should only be embarrassing if you didn’t give it your best shot. If you went for it with everything you had, and still turned up short, there is no shame in that at all.
KIDS LEARN FROM FAILURE
My baby Kinsley is really exploring her vocal range. She has just recently figured out that she can go several octaves higher than she used to, which is an absolute joy. She is also starting to formulate words (just “dada” and “pup” because of course, the least important person in our house would be “mama”) but is far from perfect in her annunciation. But every time she tries to talk, she is learning a little bit more about how to make noises and sounds in a way that will help her communicate with us. So even though she has technically failed at saying “mama” in 100% of her attempts, she is learning with each try. What we see as failures, kids see as learning experiences.
I have a coworker that always says that we should “fail forward”. Y’all, we are going to make some mistakes, and there are going to be some whoppers. But we will be able to learn from each of those attempts and that will be one step closer to getting it right. You should never look at your failures as setting you back, even though it may seem like you are back at square one. What actually happened, is now you know that the route you just tried, doesn’t work, so there must be another avenue that will lead you to success. Failing forward means that you are learning with each try. Don’t let yourself get discouraged when things don’t work out. Instead, look at it as failing forward!
CHILDREN KNOW HOW TO BOUNCE BACK
I absolutely love when little kids fall down flat on their face and just when you are positive that little head is going to come up full of tears, they look up and giggle and then continue on to their previously chosen destination. Kids just seem to know how to bounce back.
For adults, it seems that we let those failures shake us a lot more. The get back on the horse mentality is so much easier said than done. But we miss out on valuable time when we sit back and wait for our wounds/ego to heal after we fail. If we can push ourselves past embarrassment and into learning after a failed attempt, we can bounce back just like a baby learning to walk.
Look back at your most recent failure. This could be cheating on your diet, or not meeting a deadline at work. Instead of feeling shame about that moment, write down what you learned and how you can use that to get closer to success next time.
I would love to hear what some of your learning moments are in the comments below!