We often think of success as reaching our goals in life, linking success to a moment in time. But what if we considered a success as the experience to reach the goal? Our narrative of success would look very different. It would take into account the bumps along the road, the missed steps, the mistakes — everything we would naturally call the dreaded F word — failures. Part of our definition of success at Mojo doesn’t put success and failure at opposite ends of the spectrum. Instead, it inextricably links them.
One of the most innovative companies in the world, X (formerly Google X) is no stranger to this concept. X works to make progress against the world’s toughest problems across food supply, clean energy and more — the chance of failure speaks for itself! Ironically, the team at X don’t just embrace failure, they actively pursue it. Each day, they work to try and get their projects to fail. Why? It reframes their thinking on the problem, leading to a higher chance of the project’s success.
X shows failure is part of success, and that failure can be a success. So, how can we apply this to our own feelings of failure? Let’s try and reframe our perspective on it:
- Consider F.A.I.L-ing as a First Attempt In Learning — as the Greek philosopher Seneca said, “as long as you live, keep learning how to live.” Because the thing is, there’s no recipe for life — it’s simply a test that favours the curious-minded; those willing to make mistakes and unlock the opportunity for growth and curiosity. When we choose to reframe failure as learning, failing ceases to exist.
- Remember you are not your failure — and news flash, you’re also not your success! Don’t attach your self-worth and identity to failure — separate the two. As James Clear says, we should treat failure like a scientist would — a negative result is simply a data point that helps prove or disprove a hypothesis, it’s not an indication of a bad scientist.
- Fail forward — what we deem a ‘failure’ can actually be a crucible moment in our life, course-correcting our journey and realigning us with our intrinsic motivations. But because we link the idea of success to “doing something forever”, when we pivot or course-correct by ending something, it can feel like we’re going backwards and failing, not forwards. Perhaps it’s a business you started, but it’s now too expensive and taking time away from your family so you close it. The end may feel like a failure, but it’s what we like to reframe as ‘failing forward’ — using our intrinsic motivations to always guide our sails forward, with the courage to change course.
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