Failure as such is a spectrum. This overused term in our lives can range from a personal failure that is frowned upon socially, such as a divorce (before many older generations of course); to a job failure such as being laid off. But as much drama as we can add to the verb of failure, the reality is that it is our own perception of failure that is often exaggerated. When we view failure as anything but perfection, life gets really, really complicated. Then, no matter what, your actions will never be good enough. And that's exhausting.
If you recently consider that you've had a major failure in your work life, but you don't know how serious it is, here are some questions to ask yourself before you panic. Consider this as a practice to gradually take the weight off the action of making a mistake at work and normalize it more.
Here are the 3 questions to ask yourself every time you feel you have failed:
Think about time and space.
The recent failure still has you preoccupied, your emotions are running high and you wish you could go back in time and change everything. Take a deep breath and ask yourself these questions to better understand what just happened:
How much will this failure matter a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now?
Will this failure be an obstacle to my long-term goals?
Was this failure under my control? Was it my responsibility?
Analyze the people and competencies around you.
In this step you will have to look at what happened and be objective about who influenced this failure. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Did I fail because I didn't know how to do something? Did I lack skills?
Did this failure affect anyone else? If so, who, how did it affect them?
Who supported me when I failed? Who didn't? Was lack of support the reason I failed?
If it was my friend who failed and not me, would I view failure in the same way?
It's time to move forward and put failure behind you, life goes on. These questions are the ones that will take you to the next stage where you have already managed to forgive yourself for what you have done.
What have I learned from this failure?
Has anything good come out of this failure?
Is there anything I can do to fix this failure?
What do I need to do to overcome this failure?
When the time comes, what can I do to overcome this failure?
How can I broaden my concept of "failure" and "success" so that it is not just one or the other?
These steps are the start for you to get past the horrible feeling of being wrong and feeling bad about yourself. We are confident that, once you have asked yourself the questions, the problem will look much smaller than it originally felt and you will be able to move on.
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