Failure May Be a Catalyst for Success

By | 2016-11-04T16:57:35+00:00 June 19, 2014|Insights, Viewpoints|

How would you complete the following statement?

My success is based on __________________________________.

A.    My innate talent/intelligence/abilities
B.    My hard work/perseverance/learnings

If you answered A, you may have a “fixed” mindset, according to psychologist Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. That means you may fear failure and suffer from a type of perfectionism that can bring on major stress and unhappiness.

On the other hand, if you answered B, you may be growing smarter by the day—and happier to boot. People like you, who have a “growth” mindset, tend not to dread life’s inevitable setbacks. They understand that there’s always room for improvement—and failing is the way to learn how to improve, says Dweck.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

— Thomas Edison, Inventor

Although most people may not be aware of their own mindset, their behavior can provide clues. For example, criticism can be devastating for someone with a “fixed” mindset—it’s heard as an insult to who that person is. But to someone with a “growth” mindset, everyone can get smarter/better if they work hard enough, and criticism serves as a guidepost rather than an indictment.

The good news is that mindsets can change. Experience can actually alter the brain’s physical structure and the way it organizes information. Constructive criticism can help encourage people to persist despite setbacks and even to welcome failure as a tool of growth.

The brain is hardwired to look for solutions in the midst of conflict and struggle, claims Niki Weber, EVP at BrainSport (and the subject of an earlier JUICE blog post). That’s how human beings wound up on the top of the evolutionary food chain. And failure is the crucible of learning, the foundation of the scientific method, the parent of success.

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”

— Thomas J. Watson, Chairman, CEO, IBM (1914-1956)

In order to reach our full potential as human beings, as employers and employees, as parents and children, as siblings and friends, it’s important to take risks. The more we can accept criticism, prepare to be wrong, tolerate failure—the more creative and successful we can be.

What has helped you grow professionally? What has hindered you? Share your thoughts and inspire others…

About the Author:

Allison Rudesyle
VP, Associate Creative Director

One Comment

  1. Debbie Irwin June 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Great post. I’m all about brain plasticity, and finding new pathways to growth and learning. Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something right is to do it very wrong– intentionally– so you understand what not to do. That makes finding the right way that much clearer.Debbie Irwin

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