Failure. It really should be a four letter word. Fear of it causes ulcers, indecision and inaction. But ultimately, we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. This isn’t just true in the vending industry – but in life.
In my office I have a post-it note with a quote from Henry Ford, a great American Industrialist. "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."
I like the quote, because it turns something bad into something good… a logical 180 when I feel unsure. Still, we all fail. We all make mistakes, take a path that didn’t work out the way we wanted or just – for whatever reason - make a mess of things. And when it happens, it’s a terrible feeling. But experiencing failure and learning to deal with it is part of the human experience. Here are four ways that might, if anything else, help you learn to deal with recent mistakes:
Look at it as a learning exercise
In business we are obsessed with success and achievement. And now with social media like Facebook and LinkedIn, we’ve become tied to touting our jobs titles and achievements; but no one creates a status update on the times when they fail. Failing feels like the worst thing that can happen. In reality it isn’t. A mistake helps you build the resiliency needed to cope, a vital element of bouncing back when disaster strikes (again and again). Recognize it as a learning opportunity, whether it’s something you can fix in your work habits, design or attitude.
Ignore the critics, especially the one in your head
It’s easy to point out a failure when you don’t have all the facts. Critics can really make a mistake feel even worse, but these people often don’t know what effort has gone into an idea or process. Even when the failure is a small thing, like three or four extra holes in the wall last Saturday as I tried to find the stud to hang coat hooks (I obviously don’t have the right ear for the tapping technique for stud location). Probably the worst critic is the one in your head. The one that you can’t escape and who whispers your biggest fears will come true because of your failure. Tune them out! It’s always easier to be a critic. And critics mess up as well. Remember that.
Smile – studies show it makes you feel better
Get out of your own head and laugh about the failure. Many things in life are all about attitude. We get obsessed about what we should have said, or should have done. We start muttering, rehearsing the event differently. Well, let’s break that habit right now. Write the scene down – but make it part of your favorite sitcom. How would the characters resolve it? If writing isn’t your thing, then tell someone about the event, but make it funny. Use sarcasm and creative similes. Try to make the listener laugh – that will make you feel better. I promise.
Repeat “no one died”
And when all else fails, remember that no one died because of your failure (hopefully). In the vending industry, failures rarely come down to life or death. Things may be bad, but there are always blessings to be counted. And it’s not over yet; there’s an opportunity to fix the mistake or at least apologize. This is what I try to tell my children, and in the end, it reminds us all that everything is fixable and making a mistake is not the end of the world.