How to Fail Fabulously

"Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from." - Al Franken

Fail Fabulously. I first heard this term when I was attending my first coach-training workshop. I disliked it from the moment I heard it. What was fabulous about failing? Failing was failing. When I failed at something I tried I was embarrassed, humiliated at times, and you couldn't convince me that it was a fabulous experience at all.

This is probably why I spent a lot of my life avoiding making mistakes by playing it safe.

By Along for the Ride

You must admit we all make mistakes. It is a big part of our being human.

We live in a world where we are taught that whatever we do, do it right. Measure twice, cut once. Do it right the first time, or don't do it at all.

We are taught from a very early age to be perfectionists. Mistakes are to be avoided at all costs. We even cover up our mistakes and hope no one sees them as they would reflect badly on us.

I think the problem is not in making mistakes, but the stories we tell ourselves about the mistakes. Oh, and those little (or blairing) name-calling voices in our head that start telling us how stupid we are or how incompetent we just proved ourselves to be or how this one failure leads us to continuing failure. "There you go again. You can't do anything right, can you?"

With those inner voices talking to me when I was given full permission to fail fabulously, they went wild. "Oh, now here's an excuse you can use for not being perfect. How sad to make failing fun."

"While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior." - Henry C. Link

Well, over the years, I have learned to fail fabulously. And this is a new rule, and perhaps even a value I now hold. It's like learning to drive a car. At first we are unconsciously incompetent because we don't even think of driving a car. It's not on our radar. Then we become a teenager and learn how to drive. Conscious incompetence is at the wheel. We are learning and are consciously incompetent, as we need to learn to the level of competence.

As we get more comfortable and practice driving we become consciously competent. We still need to focus on the mechanics of driving. Then one day it becomes second nature to us and we are now unconsciously competent. We don't even think about the "how" of driving. We just do it.

To learn to drive a car, we had to fail fabulously. Hopefully with no serious accidents.

I now feel if I'm not failing fabulously, then I'm not really living this game called life. I'm not growing, I'm not learning, I'm not challenged or motivated.

I even made a failure resume. I took a look back on my biggest personal, professional and academic failures. It helped me see how failure got me on a different road to success. Yes, it was a road I had not originally chosen, but one that was better for me to take.

I can happily say I have failed fabulously in my life. I am getting really good at failing and learning from it. I have something to celebrate.

The best part? I have learned that my fabulous failures make for the best stories.

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one." - Elbert Hubbard


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