What if I told you that, there is an alternative to the negative way failure affects your life.
There is a solution.
And, that YOU hold the power?
But before I let you into a little secret, I want to take you back to your childhood.
From an early age, it’s instilled in us that, ‘in order to be successful, thou shalt not Fail’,
Eat your greens, don’t smoke, it’ll give you square eyes that thing, pass your exams, you have go to university, get a good job, don’t end up on the dole, make sure you have savings, get on the property ladder, try not to get in the papers, find a nice man…
Throughout our lives, we’re often compared to those who are deemed successful; hearing stuff like, “so and so’s”:
Off to Cambridge / got a beautiful family / started their own business last month and made their first million in a week/ has got an IQ of 350 / lost 14 stone in a day… a day / got a fantastic selection of six holiday homes in Barbados / flown to the moon this weekend / discovered a cure for cancer whilst they were doing their big shop…
Why can’t you be more like them / him / her?
I have no doubt in my mind, that this sounds familiar to each and everyone of you. No wonder most of us live in fear of the F-Word; it’s a cult – we’ve all been brainwashed!
We need an intervention and quick, before we’re a nation of bloated, F-Word casualties.
This why I’m proud to present my newly developed F-it Club – a lighter, sugar-free, more positive approach to the F-Word.
Together, we can rid the world this unhealthiness; hell, we can do one better and spread the good word to ensure that more people take the four steps to the The F-it Club.
Don’t just take my word for it; as part of Northern Power Women’s weekly tweet-up, we approached our network of incredible and successful humans already living and breathing The F-it Club, to learn about their approach to cutting the F-Word flab.
Remember, this is not a faddy plan, it’s a way of life. Brothers and sisters, read on, to discover why you join The F-it Club right now.
We asked our F-it Clubbers, what words spring to mind when they define failure. I would like you to use this as your basic cupboard staples, for a successful nutrient-filled F-it Club approach to failure.
And, as a special introductory offer, especially for you – for a limited, forever time only, all of these will come direct to your door, at no cost – at all!
Our F-it Club said,
Awful, Brilliant, Growth, Opportunity Lies Elsewhere, Scary, Revealing, Grounding, Try Try. Again, Opportunity, Reflection, Growth, Opportunity, Magnitude, Diversity, Glitch, Learn, Educational, Valuable, Opportunity, Essential, Strengthening, Knowledgeable, Don’t Give Up, Lesson learnt go!, Learn, Retest, Opportunity, Learn Move On!
I’m not saying this is going to be an easy plan to follow. We’re simply not taught that ‘failure is an option’.
To properly follow the F-it club Plan, you must reeducate yourself on everything you think you know about the F-Word. Which will mean severely reducing and in some cases completely cutting out the comfortable, fatty, negative thinking and chowing down on handfuls of fresh positivity!
Chartered Engineering Geologist Athena Livesey adds, “You have to take ownership of errors, reflect, process it, swallow your pride and wave goodbye to negativity. Channel your energy positively.”
Stage 1: Don’t be scared
“Failure is the best way to learn.” says business management consultancy, Kan Do Ventures. Sarah Tulip from aql, has a similar stance, “it’s the most important way to learn!”
Joanne Conway, EY’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Lead adds,
“Every time we fail, we learn. We realise how strong we are when we keep going!”
Natalie Reynolds author and CEO of Advantage Spring says offers an insight into dealing with the aftermath of failure; “Learn from it. Why did it happen? What can you change?”
Whilst Athena Livesey, says lose the fear because, “it helps us grow and become wiser. It’s hard especially when [we’re] passionate, but we must learn and evolve.”
Can you see the pattern emerging? Yes, F-Word evangelists,
You might not see instant results, it could be a month or a year down the line, but you will learn, trust me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not living in la la land. I’m shit-scared of the F-Word.
Try telling yourself that failure is a ‘huge learning curve’, when you’re on the verge of, during, or just on the other side of a FAIL. It’s the last thing I want to hear. It’s very much like telling me to ‘chill out’, if I’m having a meltdown – you are seriously NOT HELPING.
However, if we can keep it in the back of our minds, that some good will come out of each and everyone of our F-Word moments, then we can soften the blow of our fails and be more ready to re-programme future malfunctions and move on.com
Liz Hoskins from Positive Qualities sees failure as necessary part of the journey, “[it’s the] first attempt in learning. Keep on going, reflect and learn.”
Employability advocate Steph Hamilton says that it’s essential to fail, because, “without it we wouldn’t grow, get stronger or learn anything in life!”
Country Girl @ Heart encourages us to cut out entirely our bleak connotations of the F-Word, “Failure can be a negative state of mind. If we learn from it why be afraid? Something positive came from it. Failure is a glitch.”
Life coach and author Denise Chilton even dares utter the S-Word,
“In my experience, failure brings success.” As does Keys Business who says, “Failure is just a stepping stone to success.”
We’ve heard about the notion of learning from the F-Word as a fundamental rule of the F-it Club and I can hear you all asking, “well give me some real-life examples, I want some scandelous before and after photos!”
Our tweet-up guests shared some of their biggest failures from relationships, jobs to business arrangements and education;
Writer, Carly Street takes us back to her university days, “I failed my dissertation. I was the only one in my course to graduate without honours; I walked across the stage separately.”
Naomi Timperley, co-founder of Tech North Advocates says that a partnership was her biggest F-Word, “[it was] going into business with people who I shouldn’t have!”
Presenter coach Kate Cocker, believes that it was a role that wasn’t right for her, “I was in a job that wasn’t aligned with my values.”
Sarah Tulip sticks with the professional theme and says hers was, “Fighting for 18 months, for a board position, I was never going to get, – in a company I loved. Letting go was a killer but so happy now!”
Athena Livesey notes that failures have a shelf-life, “What I thought were failures I don’t see as now. Failure is relative to a moment in time, it’s finite.”
Stage 2: Work out in a talent pool of fails
I’m currently the Fundraising and Marketing Manager at UpRising, the UK’s leading youth leadership charity and we coach our young people that it’s OK to fail. We do this through the process of experiential learning; providing sandpits for our leaders-to-be, to test pilot their own projects, play, fail, learn and to then leave us.
They’re better equipped to succeed and probably fail again along the way. Don’t get me wrong, we do not set them up to fail, rather we provide the safe space for them to do so.
We are therefore creating a very resilient bunch of humans who can better process mistakes and setbacks, which makes for a fantastic pool or future employees, employers and leaders.
Yes, the F-it Club approach can be applied to boosting your job prospects.
Sounds kinda weird though?
‘The Power of UpRising’, a 2015 report by Demos, includes interviews with some of the UK’s most senior leaders, exploring their career journeys and what they think makes a good leader. We discovered valuable insights into the qualities and characteristics that are most worthwhile to the success of the leaders of tomorrow. This included the virtues of failure,
Gary Elden OBE, CEO of recruitment firm SThree suggested that young people looking to better themselves ‘shouldn’t care about failing, but care about trying’. He learned to deal with failure early in his career, attending twenty-six interviews before getting his first office job. His experiences of bouncing back from failure have also shaped what he looks for when recruiting,
“If there’s a track-record showing that you’ve dealt with failure – that’s what’s important. I look for the knockbacks. When I first joined Computer Futures, I also ran a takeaway. I used to leave work at six o’clock, work in my takeaway until midnight, and then on Saturday. It failed. I’ve also invested in things and failed. I wasn’t successful right away. Dealing with that is character building.”
The experience of failure is a great tool for your next recruitment drive. Take for example, in an interview with a prospective employee; how richer would a response be to a question about failure and overcoming the challenge, to one where they simply sing the praises of their success? The ability to reflect, learn and continue is really impressive.
Natalie from Server PR says that it’s a technique she often uses too, “It’s a great way to see how people respond and, more importantly, whether potential employees are willing to take ownership!”
Athena Livesey agrees, she says, “[failure] adds character and makes you inspirational to others as you have already gone through it. How many times have we jumped the same hurdles?”
Kan Do, also agrees, “it’s a sign of self-awareness and tenacity, which are critical skills in business.”
Stage 3: We need to talk…
The F-it Club is not a solitary way of life; it’s a big warm bosom of support.
Which is very important to consider when we have an F-Word moment; what feels like the worst catastrophe ever, to one person, can be merely but a scratch to the next.
As we’ve covered before, the F-it Club’s focus is to learn; but let’s not keep all of these golden lessons to ourselves. Sharing your experiences can support others to either not make similar mistakes, or help to guide them through their own F-Word moments.
Athena Livesey adds, “Failure makes you inspirational to others, as you have already gone through it. How many times have we jumped the same hurdles?
Sharing is kindness and caring. Strong women help others up! Don’t be afraid to talk about your experience with someone you trust.”
Kate Cocker takes this one step further by explaining that with the F-Word can bring compassion, she says, “Failure is actually the gift of empathy. We can use our lessons to really empathise with others.”
Life Coach Denise Chilton was on the receiving end of such advice, “After setting up my coaching business, I was pretty close to burnout. I took myself off to a networking event in Liverpool to find some help.
“At the event, four successful women were sharing their business stories. I asked, ‘How many of you have nearly given up?’ and each of them had a memorable example.
The words I will never forget are, ‘so many people give up when they are one step off success’, and this have inspired me ever since.
To truly follow the F-it Club Plan, it’s important that you understand the following F-groups and how your F-Word problem might not be that much of a huge deal after all,
Abject The really dark one. It marks you and you may never fully recover from it.
People lose their lives, jobs, respect or livelihood.
Examples: The BP oil spill, Brexit
Structural It cuts deeply – but it doesn’t permanently cripple your identity.
Examples: Windows Vista, Galaxy Note 7 batteries, General Election 2017
Glorious Going out in a botched but beautiful blaze of glory – catastrophic, but exhilarating.
Examples: Jamaican bobsled team
Common Everyday instances of screwing up that are not difficult to recover from.
Most simply require “the apology”.
Examples: Oversleeping and being late for work, Burning toast
Version Small failures that lead to incremental but meaningful improvements over time.
Predicted Failure as an essential part of a process that allows you to see things clearly.
Example: The prototype – only by creating imperfect early visions of it can you learn what’s necessary to refine it, teen relationships
The above is adapted from Jamer Hunt’s superb, Six Types of Failure.
The Final Stage: The comeback kid
In this run down of the F-it Club approach, we’ve seen how we can learn from the F-Word, but can we really bounce-back too?
My life has had F-Bombs dropped all over it, from recruitment misjudgements, dodgy relationships, being over reactive in certain situations, to deleting a radio station’s whole bank of jingles!
However, my biggest F-Word moment was a combination of failures in my twenties that saw me over work myself, to the point that it had an effect on my mental health. Now in my thirties, I have the clarity and experience, that a good work ethic doesn’t have to be this way. I now have a healthier work / life balance – it’s not perfect, but I’m continuing to learn ways to improve it and it’s often my previous failures that helps me to find my footing again.
You can come back from failure, Helen Newlove brill-iantly advises us to, “Feel down. Take a deep breathe, slap yourself with a wet fish and get back right up there.”
Take Denise Chilton’s example of turning a personal, life-changing challenge into something successful. She explains how a devastating relationship breakdown turned into an award winning venture,
“My ex-partner left me for another woman. On the back of that, I became a published author to help other women. It launched in March this year and a week later I was chosen as Mentor of the Year by Northern Power Women.
“That’s the key part isn’t it? The success afterwards? We all need a bit of ‘failure’ to make a change. Failure is a delay, not a defeat.”
Kan Do says that what’s central to your approach to failure is the keeping in mind the bounceback and that, “It’s remembering that you WILL comeback stronger.”
Country Girl @ Heart says that the best comeback is to arrive at a place you are happy, and that “If you love what you do you will never work another day.”
If you’re still not convinced about the F-it Club, here’s a collection of every word, from each tweet that formed the F-Word Northern PowerWomen tweetup.
Join now and get a lifetime’s membership – free
Remember, before you start the F-it Club, do not consult your doctor about your lifestyle change, just F-it.
(As originally published on the Northern Power Women blog)