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Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

How well do you ‘fail’?

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

We live in a society where ‘failure’ is the opposite of ‘winning’, but research on true success is telling us that there is great value in setbacks, and the more we have, the more success we can expect! If you’re confused, let me quote again..

 

“You will fail. Especially in the beginning. You will fail. And that’s not just OK, it’s essential. Without resilience, the first failure is also the last—because it’s final.

Those who are excellent at their work and life have learned to comfortably coexist with failure. The excellent fail more often than the mediocre.

Eric Greitens, Resilience

 

If we are not failing, we are not risking, trying something new, stepping out of our comfort zone, improving our skill. However, it’s the ability to learn and grow from it, as opposed to throwing in the towel and walking away, that makes all the difference. Imagine if toddlers gave up learning to walk after the first few tries, or Thomas Edison gave up inventing the lightbulb after 1000’s (!) of attempts. Darkness.

How does mindfulness enter this equation? When we are mindful, we can become aware of what our habitual reactions to ‘failure’, setbacks, rejection or whatever else,  are. Is it to berate yourself? give up? get frustrated? blame others? Well, go there and embrace and honor all the emotions that arise and let them simmer in the big pot of mindfulness. Then get on with celebrating the fact that you are one step closer to your goals and aspirations, and being a wonderfully imperfect person with depth, humor and stories to tell. Laugh if you can.

Research tells us that the quality that most determines success in children is “grit”: the ability to persevere, to keep going, to learn from mistakes, above everything else. That tells me that emotional intelligence has a far greater impact than we ever imagined. The ability to know oneself well in times of stress is true gold. Who are you when things go ‘wrong‘?

 

So, fail lots, fail big, and savour all those wins….you’ve earned them.

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