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  • Writer's pictureUtkarsh Narang

Reframe Your Relationship with Failure

"Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." ― Nelson Mandela

Dear Friend,

The human brain fascinates me beyond imagination. It is amazing how the grey and the white matter decide our beliefs, actions, and our behaviors. They form the blueprint of our lives. There is enough research to prove that the human brain learns the patterns that get repeated. They form gyri or ridges that strengthen certain behaviors. 

With that context, let me take you back a few decades. As a 10-year old in school, my parents and teachers always said this one statement as exams approached - "Study hard, else you will fail." It was not just the statement but the tone and the emotions it conveyed that made me feel that failure is a bad thing. It made me feel that I cannot fail. It made me believe that there is no life beyond failure.

The repetition of these statements over time makes failure a negative thing. We start to fear it. It leads to a sense of hopelessness, anxiety, and sometimes even feeling helpless. Your self-worth erodes and leads to embarrassment. That is, when you don’t have the right guidance, you start to fall into a shell. This makes failure a lonely place!

How do we break away from this pattern? 

One of the most effective strategies I have observed for myself and my coachees is to reframe your relationship with failure. When you fail, identify the emotions that you are feeling. Try to break away from what has been the norm. Act with self-love and compassion instead of self-doubt and criticism. Reframe failure by embracing the Growth Mindset. By saying that, this was a learning opportunity. Next time, I will achieve my goals. You can also reframe your relationship with failure by perceiving it as the fire that will push you to achieve more. Go higher. Be more. Succeed at your terms.

Finally, remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. It will have failures and successes, but none of these define you. You are much more than an event in your life. Believe in yourself and keep striding.

But before I close, let me complete my story. Fast forward a few years, I was studying to become a doctor. Did not get through any of the medical entrance exams. But I made it through for a bachelor's in physical therapy. Now, some might say I failed. My dream of becoming a surgeon was not fulfilled. It could have been the end of my dreams. But instead of feeling the heartbreak, I had a new dream - Becoming the best physical therapist in my country! It's an excellent dream to have, right? Since then, I have evolved my relationship with failure. Failure is a stepping stone. An essential one.

How has your relationship with failure evolved? Do any stories come to mind as you hear the word 'failure'? I hope this added value to your life. If it did, write back to me. If it did not, then definitely write back to me. I read every message that comes my way.



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