What if You Were Paid to Fail?Apr 26, 2022
I gave a sweet client of mine a brilliant challenge. I would pay her $1 each time she tried something and failed during the next two weeks. This is the result was when we met again. 💚
She, like most of my clients, struggles with perfectionism. We are seeing this incredibly harmful pandemic showing up in today's youth like never before. This generation is surrounded with more ways to compare themselves to others than we ever were.
As defined by Thomas Curran, assistant professor of psychological and behavioral science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, "Perfectionism — the need to be or to at least appear to be perfect, as well as the belief perfection is possible — has been linked to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders".
When working with my clients, we work hard to become authentic, courageous, and vulnerable. Our ability to put down our shield of perfectionism to show up as we really are and learning to love that person in the moment.
Perfectionists don't like to fail. Their self-worth is linked to their performance and how they are perceived. Therefore, they don't try new things that may put their core self beliefs in jeopardy.
These kids avoid difficult classes, competing in sports, trying new hobbies, making new friends, learning new beliefs. They believe that if they can't do it right, and right the first time, they can't risk the results of failure.
What if instead of being afraid of failure we embrace it?
One of my business coaches challenged my coaching group to fail 100 times that month. A newly recovering perfectionist, my jaw dropped and my heart skipped a beat. She couldn't be serious. I could feel the vulnerability and embarrassment creep in before I even had a moment to swallow. Tears sprang to the surface and I became emotional.
I hadn't worked with the coach so I could fail MORE! I wanted to fail LESS. I wanted her to help me do things right the first time so I didn't have to fail. I couldn't wrap my brain around allowing myself to fail in front of my clients, peers, friends, family, and community that many times. What would they think of me?
I couldn't stop thinking about this challenge. I began to think of times that I had made poor business choices, made mistakes, and made U-turns along the way. I could see that these were my greatest areas of growth.
When we learn to fail and fail really well, we get up stronger, faster, braver, and smarter each time we fail. Our failures define our successes and we become more successful than we ever thought we would be.
The benefit of a teen learning how to fail really well means they will meet new friends, have exciting adventures, find out who they really are, and learn how to love themselves through the process.
I loved sending my client an envelope with cash in it. The next time we met, she had a list of things she had tried and failed. I was so proud of her that tears sprang to my eyes. She was amazing. She was learning to grow. She was on the path to stop judging herself based on her ability to be perfect.
Allowing imperfections and celebrating our efforts are one of the best things we can do in our families.
One of my friends makes a special "failure cake" for her kids each time they try something and fail. Be creative in how you encourage your kids!
Using my favorite 5 word phrase - "I love watching you _____" is a great place to start. Stop rewarding perfect grades, how many goals they get in a game, the 100% on a spelling test, or the perfectly done hair. Celebrate their efforts instead.
Imperfect homes are peaceful homes. It's uncomfortable at first but the peace that comes from authenticity can't be replicated any other way. 🕊️
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