The brink of failure
Failure… A close relative of fear who fights to keep us from our best. Man has always been praised for his ability to endure and prevail against all odds but the fear of humiliation can stop most of us in our tracks before we can even begin to try. Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck, during her research to understand how people cope with failure found that there were students who didn’t even recognize failure. Instead, these students correlated the need to work harder or develop better study habits. What’s more fascinating is that these students almost all sought such challenges independently and were uninterested in anything that came easily. The students who demonstrated such behavior turned out to be most likely to have six figure salaries and successful marriages after graduating which Professor Dweck correlates with their desire for challenge. By placing themselves in the most challenging environments and opting to lose the most, they had the most to gain. Many of us are failure-averse and as Dweck points out, we can be failure averse in one area of our lives and not another. For example an athlete can be unafraid of failure in his or her sport but not when it comes to their love life. Below is something that helps me have perspective when it comes to winning or losing.
Theodore Roosevelt famously quoted “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”