Achieving A Growth Mindset
failing and losing more
The old adage of Thomas Edison being asked, “What did it feel like failing 1,000 times before creating the light bulb?” and Edison responding…
“I didn’t fail 1,000 times, the light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps”
is used over and over again to demonstrate to people that before success can be realized there needs to be failure. It is easy to hear this quote and think, “yeah, sure that makes sense…it is okay to mess up because ultimately you will achieve what you are trying to achieve.” However, this concept of failing, or losing goes well beyond just this quote.
The idea of losing more is something that I thought about for a blog post a few weeks back but was not sure of the best way to present it so it would be received well by the reader. I determined that the process of truly gaining anything from a failure or a loss is a cyclical process.
The process starts with an openness to losing or failure, the act of losing or failing, and then the response to that loss or failure.
This process is a classic feedback loop where one decision is capable of informing the next, continuously. However, one does not have the honor and pleasure of being in this feedback loop if they do not first have an openness to failure.
An openness to failure is something that takes a lot of maturity and personal fortitude to discover. This openness to failure means that one knowingly and willingly places themselves in challenging situations with the foresight to know that they can and will likely fail at some point along the line. This manifests itself by being the individual at work who takes on the challenging project with the challenging staffer that other colleagues may not like, by attending a social gathering that may be uncomfortable for you, by registering for an Olympic lifting meet, by participating in the CrossFit Open and doing all of the workouts not just the ones you know you will do well in, by sticking to a program and following the program rather than cherry picking across multiple programs.
Once you have opened yourself up to failure and have determined that you are willing to fail, the battle towards achieving a growth mindset is only 33% complete.
The next step is the act of failing.
Failure happens to everyone many times throughout the course of one’s life, but it is the people who are able to recognize the act of failure as an opportunity to grow that will achieve more personal growth than those who recognize failure as an isolated event.
When failure happens, as it will, in order to achieve a growth mindset, the individual needs to recognize that they failed because of no one’s fault but their own. Sure, there may have been others involved in the work stream project that was not successful, but failure occurred because of something that you personally could have done differently. It is detrimentally important that we recognize the mistakes that we personally made that led us to failure and that we own these mistakes like we have never owned something before.
The second that we start to even slightly accredit our failure with something someone else did, regardless of how close or involved they were to the event or project, the second we lose ownership of our failure and thus, we lose any growth we may have achieved from our failure.
The third and final aspect of the failure/loss feedback loop and the final portion of the growth mindset triad is our response to failure.
Do we learn and continue to open ourselves up to failure or do we remain stubborn and afraid and remove ourselves from future situations where we may have the opportunity to fail?
If we decide not to learn from our failures and that failure was too painful and thus, we do not want to be in situations where we could fail again, we pull ourselves out of the feedback and cut ourselves off from the growth mindset feedback loop.
Rather, if we process our failure, take heed of exactly why we failed and how we could improve if placed in a similar situation, and then willingly continue to place ourselves in situations where we are vulnerable to failure, then we remain in the growth mindset feedback loop.
It is through this growth mindset feedback loop that we can continue to grow throughout our lives even once we have “established” ourselves in a certain aspect of our life. Individuals who find themselves bored and stuck in the monotony of life are individuals who at some point in their life experienced failure, decided it was too frightening, never wanted to experience it again and thus intentionally removed themselves from the growth mindset feedback loop.
However, it is the people who intentionally remain in this feedback loop that find growth in failure, learn more about themselves through failure and live fulfilling and purposeful lives.
Throughout life, stay within the growth mindset feedback loop by continually finding new and exciting ways to fail because it is through this failure and the vulnerability associated with failure that you improve, that you grow as a person and that you can help others grow.
Disclaimer: The ideas, thoughts, and suggestions detailed in this blog post and subsequent blog posts are the ideas, thoughts, and suggestions of Matt Moosavian and are not necessarily reflective of Urban Athletic Club as a whole, or the UAC staff individually. More Blog Posts.