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Failure is generally underrated. For a start it is unavoidable. Every endeavour involves failure at some stage; it is part of the developmental process, part of learning and part of us. The problem is not so much failure, the problem is the way we think about success.

Success is OK as an aspiration, but in most cases when it becomes and obsession it can create difficulties we never intended. In some cases a single-minded focus on success is an asset or even a requirement. Winning, passing an exam or climbing a mountain (literal or metaphorical) for example. Misapplied in our daily lives such a focus can be a hindrance.

We may not realise that it is happening, yet quite often as we go about our regular work and routines we are simultaneously running a script which says “got to get it right”, “must not fail”, etc. We become overly focused on avoiding failure which can tie us up in knots and cast a negative shadow over our efforts. In serious cases it means fear.

Being afraid of failure can motivate us, up to a point. When the fear becomes our companion it stifles initiative and creativity, saps our confidence and destroys morale.

The remedy to this is well known. Just as fear ceases to have power over us when we accept it as part of life, accepting failure for what it is can be liberating. Ask any successful person about this and they’ll confirm it. Entrepreneurs, writers, designers, researchers, managers, parents… Anybody who is good at anything knows that it sometimes goes wrong. So what!

Get over it and you can get on with life.

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