Reframing Failure

“You’re not growing unless you’re failing!” “Fail forward!” “You don’t learn unless you fail!” I could go on. The problem is catchy quotes are little comfort when you’re in the middle of failure. So what can you do instead?

Last week I wrote about my 3 year $500K failure at my farm in Maryland. It was a painful and at times embarrassing experience. But I’ve learned a couple of “failure hacks” that helped me navigate the challenges and come out the other side with a healthy perspective.

My 3 best failure hacks are:

Zoom out.

Failing at something important to you can really sting, and call into question whether you’re making any progress at all. The solution: look at your situation from a longer-term perspective. It’s true, this week, this month, or even this year could be a sh%* show, but if you zoom out far enough you’ll be impressed by just how much progress you’ve made.

The pain of failure is often the inability to see it in the appropriate time frame. Take my farm for example. While the project didn’t move forward, I still have the property and we have a really nice Plan B I’m now excited about.

Reframe what it means to win.

How you define a win or a failure is completely up to you, and if you’re feeling like you’re failing more than you’re winning, maybe you need to relook at how you define a win. Let’s look at the farm again. While the project didn’t move forward, I met so many wonderful people and those relationships are already bearing fruit in unexpected ways. Had I not invested in that project, I wouldn’t have invested the time in the community like I did. That is a win.

Stop the pity party by volunteering

You only have to look around in your community, or perhaps the country or the world, and quickly realize, you have nothing to complain about. But that powerful perspective reset requires you to get out of your house/office, out of your head, and into the service of others. I can’t think of anything more healing than helping someone you’re in a position to help navigate life and come out the other end just a little bit better.