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We Succeed by “Failing Up”

It’s easy to think of failures as negative experiences. After all, we’ve missed the mark on something we tried to accomplish – oftentimes something that was very important to us. But, it is important to remember that failures aren’t wasted attempts. In fact, they can be excellent and meaningful opportunities for growth.

When we think of our skills and abilities, we can divide them into three categories: those areas in which we have mastery, those we are still developing, and those which we have not yet scratched the surface of.

On some days, we’ll make great progress on our skills in a particular area; on other days, our progress may seem to slide a bit.  If we were to chart our progress on a board, we would see these ups and downs over time, but overall the curve of our progress would move upward as we continued to try and then learned from the resulting mistakes – yes, our failures. This incremental process of trying, failing, and trying again defines the concept of “failing up.”

When we take a chance to expand our skills and miss the mark, this isn’t a catastrophic failure. It’s an opportunity to grow from our experience and to do it better the next time.  By recognizing our weaknesses and understanding why we failed, we are empowered to navigate through challenges.

If you haven’t experienced failure – or if you’ve ignored the lessons inherent in the process of trying – you’re missing out on your most valuable opportunities for growth. Ask yourself after each failure: “What can I do differently next time?”

The most important thing is to continually strive to try new things and move forward. You may be surprised at what you are able to achieve.

— By Penny Vittoria, Successful Aging Coach

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