Asteroid and Earth Janice B Gordon

Last week I wrote about having the confidence to follow your own path, even when life’s challenges do not work in your favour. Two people can share the same experience but they will both have different reactions and will form lasting perceptions of their experience. I know from personal experience one person can decide to forgive and another holds the hurt nurturing it like a pot of gold. This week I want to talk about recovering from failure and disappointment.

Our minds are highly attuned to focus on the negative rather than the positive.

Our brains are hard-wired towards negative inputs to keep us out of harm’s way, psychologists call this negativity bias.

When we fail, we fall into one of the two mindsets, a fixed or a growth mindset. An excellent video by Matthew Metover explains the difference between a person who has a growth mindset and a person who has a fixed mindset.

In my book Business Evolution, I explain my journey ‘waking up the hard way.’ Once I was able to take responsibility for my thoughts and actions, there was nothing else left; only then was I able to move on and forward. Psychologists agree that admitting our mistakes is critical to learning from them.

Kristin Neff, associate professor of human development and culture at the University of Texas, Austin said “Several studies show that when we practice a new way of approaching failure, it can change an error from something we fear into something we embrace”.

Recover from Failure – Change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

  1. Recognise the fixed mindset has a built-in negative bias working in overtime, filling you with self-doubt and fear. Your negative ‘voice’ wants to keep you safe in your comfort zone, but you know this will not enable you to recover from the distorted feeling of failure.
  2. Understand that negative bias distorts your perceptions. You can choose to over-ride your negative ‘voice’ you can refuse to give in to it.
  3. Recognise you have a choice to remain fixed or to grow, to grow you must reach beyond what is comfortable – it is your choice.
  4. If you choose to disengage you inner ‘voice’ you can consciously reconnect with the positive side of you. List your positive strengths, experiences, qualities, skills, and successes. Remind yourself of how great you are.
  5. Answer your fixed mindset with growth mindset statements. ‘If do not try – I will fail’, ‘Failure is positive feedback’. ‘All successful people suffer challenges and learn from failure’. ‘To develop and grow I must learn new things in new ways so I cannot remain with what I already know.’
  6. A growth mindset is willing to take responsibility to risk failure and fix their mistakes; a growth mindset continues to improve, to learn and to grow.

Research has found that we can rewire our response to failure so that it is less scary and anxiety producing. We learn to love the challenge and with experience understand that we can recover from most things, even failure.

Before you jump off a ten metre diving board, be kind to yourself and start with a three metre diving board and keep going up.

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