Winning is about as American as apple pie. It’s no wonder that the famous quote “failure is not an option,” attributed to Gene Krantz, flight director for the Apollo 13 mission, has been burned into our collective conscience. Even the recent U.S. soccer team’s World Cup loss to Belgium was overshadowed by the outstanding performance of US goalie Tim Howard. As Amy Bass, a professor of history at the College of New Rochelle wrote for CNN after the loss, “Yesterday, Team USA lost to Belgium and is out of the running. But today, you'd think American goalkeeper Tim Howard actually won the World Cup on his own."
The problem with our winning mentality is that it overlooks the value that can be gained by losing sometimes. There may not be glory in losing, but there can be valuable lessons and insights. In “When Failure is a Good Option,” a post on the Harvard Business Review blog Ron Ashkenas, a managing partner of Schaffer Consulting, writes that “….there are some occasions when failure is not only appropriate but absolutely necessary, most times to generate learning and improvement.”
He adds,” Failure is an essential player in performance improvement. One of the best ways to develop people is to push them beyond their comfort zone, to learn new content areas and practice new skills. With few exceptions, this type of learning inevitably comes with some amount of failure because it takes practice to learn – whether its music or management.”
Abandon your Fear of Failure
Since there is value in failure because you can learn from it, you need to abandon your fear of failing. That fear can hold back your spa or massage practice from growing. It can keep you from expanding your services to include different massage treatments, selling retail products to expand your revenue, exploring partnerships or expanding to a new location.
Try to find out what is the source of your fear. Maybe you compare yourself to others and worry you won’t be able to live up to their achievements. It’s far better to focus on what makes you unique and what special value you bring to the marketplace than to focus on the success of others.
You also want to get out of your comfort zone. For example, you may have an interest in sports massage but are concerned you won’t be good at it or as good as others in the field. Instead of retreating into your familiar territory, break out and try it – try whatever new thing appeals to you. Let fear become your motivator.
Make Peace with Failure
Even when you fail, make peace with it. Let it go and move on. Don’t take it personally. Separate the failure from your sense of self. You may fail at trying something new, but it doesn’t make you a failure so stop dwelling on it and let your negative feeling go.
Don’t think of failure as the absence of achievement. Think of it as a way to learn and grow. Keep that in mind as you pursue your passions and goals.