Monday, June 9, 2014

Attitude makes the difference

Have you experienced failure lately? Done something that made you feel disappointed in yourself? It might be as big as failing to successfully complete a task at work. Or it might be as small as killing a favorite plant or having a cake fall and look more like a pancake. 

Failures and perceived failures can really drag us down, can't they? If we let them, they can cause us to get stuck—and then fear of future failures sets in and off we go, spiraling downward.

So much can be learned from those things in our lives that don't work out as we'd planned, however. In fact, I believe we learn more from what we call failures than we ever learn from successes.

When his attempts to create a light bulb didn't work time after time, Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Recently I read a different version of what Edison said. I'm not certain which one is accurate. But either version gives us much food for thought. That version is: "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." And so he did.

What's the difference? Attitude. If I can see that what I perceive as failure, in fact, really holds the possibility of lessons to learn, it's no longer a failure, is it? It's an educational opportunity. I just need to see it differently. I need to open myself up to whatever I might learn from the experience I had labeled as "failure." What do you think? Can you reframe something and discover life lessons in it?

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