Recently, I had the pleasure to share my business insights with entrepreneur, Ridjal Noor, via his online video platform, "Lions Den With Ridjal Noor". During the session, one of the topics we covered was "Celebrating Failure".
You can view the video here:
Today, I'm going to share a little bit more detail on that particular topic.
This "Celebrating Failure" is one of the concepts I learnt from theatre improvisation. During theatre rehearsals, we are encouraged to explore the different styles of acting. Even if the outcome is funny, doesn't make sense, or sometimes we made mistakes by appearing out of context, we are forgiven. My director would always say, "That's what rehearsals are for. To make mistakes." The idea behind this concept is that we are trained to be "willing to accept and embrace failure".
I found this concept refreshing and I have successfully applied it in the creativity subject I am teaching, as well as daily in my life. I am an advocate of "Celebrating Failures & Mistakes".
You see, we, or at least I am, are brought up in a community where 'F' is such a taboo word - Fear of Failure. We are in the constant fear of failure. The fear of making mistakes.
Why is that so?
This is because when we were in school, we were taught that getting "F" grades in school tests and examination, is a bad thing! My classmates and I would cry if we were to get "C" grades in school, let alone an "F"! We were afraid that our parents would reprimand us. We were afraid that our teachers would scold us. We were afraid that our friends would laugh at us.
In another example, when we were in class, when our teachers posed questions for us to answer, none of us would raise our hands to reciprocate. We were so afraid if we provided the wrong answer.
These created a mentality that mistakes and failure are something to be avoided. These experiences shaped us. And it it becomes the norm! By embracing this norm, we don't grow as a person.
What if we happily embrace failures. Is it wrong?
We must understand that we learnt better (and sometimes faster) when we fall and fail. Our brains act like a sponge; if there are any bad experiences that we encountered, we would remember it, sometimes for life. Ralph Heath, in his book, "Celebrating Failures: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big", he mentioned that that failures and defeats are life's greatest teachers. In fact, he encouraged leaders in the business world to embrace the power of failure as a learning tool for organisational improvements.
I had the opportunity to visit Canada in 2009. My Pakistani friend invited me over as he landed a job with Microsoft in Vancouver. I was so happy for him. Earlier, when each time he brought on the subject of visiting Canada, I would offer several excuses citing my work scheduling. We would still kept in touch, until he mentioned that he was getting married in December that year.
I thought that was a perfect reason for me to visit Canada. Imagine having a Pakistani friend, getting married in Canada, during winter? It would be a very interesting experience for me, I felt. So wanting to give him a surprise, I bought the airline tickets (luckily there was a travel promotion and I could settle the tickets at $999!). It was a BIG bargain! I diligently planned my trip, only to find out that his wedding would be in Pakistan!
I shared this with my ex-colleague and he gave me a good laugh! I was almost mad. I mean, I already:
- Lost the chance to meet up my Pakistani friend
- Used up my energy and time preparing for the trip
- Spent $999 for the tickets - and its non-refundable because of the promotion
All this just because I FAILED to clarify with my Pakistani friend about the wedding.
Once my colleague stopped laughing, he advised me to look at the flip-side of things. This reminded me again on the concepts of "Celebrating Failure" in theatre improvisation.
By "Celebrating Failure" it pushed me to be into positive thinking mode. I had to do a paradigm shift and think through what I could do to maximise my stay in Canada. After the trip, I realised that I benefited more because of this "FAILURE". Through this experiences, I:
- Learnt the importance of clarification,
- Got to know that that there was $999 deal to Canada!
- Got to visit The Pike Place Market in Seattle, which was famous because it was made into case studies on how happy orgaisations work. The case studies are made into books called "Fish".
- Got a chance to attend theatre improvisation shows and workshops at Vancouver Theatresports, something's lacking in this part of the region.
- Reunited with my secondary school friend, whom we have not met for 15 years! He had lived in Canada ever since after graduation.
In life, when we failed to achieve our targets or experiencing making mistakes, we have to tell ourselves that it is okay to fail. Just do not repeat the same mistake. Have a mindset that we do not just look at that failure as a "failure", instead, look for positives behind it. There will always be positives.
My take is to always accept the reality of failure and celebrate it. This is so if the next time you make mistakes and fall, you will be feeling OK. You will feel that you will fall into a 'cushion' because your sub-conscious mind will tell that you have been there and done that. This mindset will frees your energy. It will then allows you to perform to the best of your ability and achieve greater things in life.
Towards your continued success,
Author, The Stage Fright Antidote!
Founder, The Speaking Factory Pte Ltd
~ Hazriq Idrus is a Business Creativity and Speaking Strategist. He is the author of "The Stage Fright Antidote and co-authored two other books. Hazriq founded The Speaking Factory Pte Ltd with a mission to empower operational leaders and line-managers in achieving professional and organisational excellence through his signature high-energy, transformational theatre-based & experiential corporate training programmes.