No failure – only feedback

Continuing our coaching series on mindset, red10 ‘s Piers Carter explains how liberating it is to really believe that there’s no failure, only feedback…

Too old to learn the Unicycle?

I was looking despondent sitting on the floor in the park, next to my recent Christmas present … a unicycle … as I fell off for what felt like the 100th time that afternoon. An older man with a walking tick and a small dog was watching me and could see my frustration.

Unlike al the other visitors to the park that day he didn’t say:

“Couldn’t you afford a proper bike?” Or

“Did someone steal your front wheel?” Or

“What happened to the other ‘alf of yer bike mate?”

He looked at me with a wry smile and said

“If you’re not failing … you’re not learning”.

If you’re not failing…you’re not learning

I paused a moment a looked at him and then said, “Maybe so, but it’s a bit depressing when you spend more time on your backside on the floor than on the stupidest form of transport ever invented”.

We fell into conversation and it turned out he had been a former Royal Marine in years gone by and his dad had always said to him the very words he said to me.

If you’re not failing … you’re not learning.

Mindset Matters

He had grown up with the mindset that failure was useful, it happens for a reason and there was always something to learn. This mindset had taken him all over the world, into combat, throughout a fascinating career and finally into his retirement. He even wondered if he could master the elusive art of riding a unicycle.

It got me to thinking about the importance of experimentation, of trying new things, of working at your edges of comfort if you are ever going to grow and develop or learn anything new. Which is exactly how we like to coach people at red10.

We use a different expression with the same intention. “There’s no failure, only feedback”

Shifting perspective

It takes quite a shift in perspective to truly believe and embrace this.

However, once you do, it is liberating.

It means everything is an experiment of sorts, that whatever happens you can use to learn even if the outcome wasn’t optimal or the one you had hoped for.

  • It means leaving your secure job to start a business is allowed to not work out because there’s something to learn.
  • It means the interview you go for and don’t get is useful and helps you learn better interview technique.
  • It means the ambitious sales pitch you go for which doesn’t hook the customer helps you shape your sales technique for the next big pitch.

There’s no failure only feedback.

Little value in beating yourself up

We believe there is little value in beating yourself up about mistakes. Nothing to be gained from dwelling on errors, looking for someone to blame or harbouring bad feelings about the ups and downs of life and work.

The answer is to acknowledge what has happened and ask the question:

“What can I learn?”

In the words of the NBA superstar, Michael Jordan:

“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.”

My friend in the park didn’t take me up on my offer for him to have a go on my unicycle but I persisted and I’m glad I did.

Recently I rode 10 km.

Bold and adventurous philosophy

If this bold and adventurous philosophy in our coaching appeals why not get in touch for a no obligation conversation?

It may not work out but there’s no failure … only feedback.

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