Normalizing Failure

This isn't so much an informative or persuasive piece, but one that maybe is thought-provoking, and maybe even a rhetorical question in short essay form.

My Experience with Failure

I may experience failure a bit more harshly than others, but I would guess that I am as fearful of failure as much as the next person. I see this as a character flaw that keeps me from doing things that could improve me as a person. I don't feel alone in this fear, and in a lot of ways, it is evolutionary logical.

Why we fear

In the modern world, many of the instincts that served our ancient ancestors work against us. As a caveman failure often could lead to death. Miss the kill on some prey? starve to death. Don't defend correctly against an enemy? Dead.

Today failure is nowhere near lethal (in most cases). The consequences of not making the sale, getting rejected by the person you asked out on a date, failing a test, and so on, are extremely low impact compared to those that would kill you. We are programmed to think these kinds of things are threatening. While to some degree they are, the stakes are far lower and far less immediate than our prehistoric selves.

Internally it is a fight between what we consciously know to be true, and how we are programmed to react.

Overcoming Fear

Rejection Therapy is the act of doing things that you assume will fail. It is getting comfortable with failing and making the attempt the goal more than "succeeding" in the task.

I've thought a lot about rejection therapy as a way to get comfortable with failure for myself. I haven't done it yet.

What lies on the other side of fear

Can you imagine the number of risks that would be taken by kids that were taught to try and fail?

More businesses started, more people trying new things, less social pressure (maybe not less, but less felt pressure) to conform, more genuine and dissenting thought.

All of these lie on the other side of failure for us individually, and as a whole.

What do you think?

What experience do you have with failure? How have you overcome it?

Comments (4)

Marie-Elise's photo

I learned about rejection therapy recently and it seems really interesting. A friend recommended the book "Rejection Proof" by Jia Jiang. Have you read it?

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Marie-Elise's photo

I haven't read it yet but I'll probably borrow it from the library soon. Will let you know.