Often during interviews, the interviewee will be asked about past failures. I also got the question about weaknesses and or failures. My perspective caused me to have trouble understanding this question. My response was that I have many “failures” but I have always chosen to look at those occasions where I supposedly “failed” as opportunities and or steps toward my goals rather than “failures”. Doing something enabled learning, “failing” is learning.
Difficult occasions were frustrating, however I never saw them as problems but rather as necessary steps that offered indications and data that informed me that I needed to find a better way. From my perspective failures didn’t exist, these were the trials and tribulations of the never ending process that seeks to continually improve so we experience progress, or wellness (see Experiencing Wellness = Progress Toward Desired).
I now have learned that this perspective on failure has been and is used by many people that achieve progress. Some even suggest it is a necessary precursor to success. It was suggested that this perspective was necessary because it enabled people to continue to move forward and not let themselves feel they were complete failures. It is a perspective that allows people to keep some self-worth. Steve Jobs suggests passion is what helps people persevere beyond when a “sane” person would quit.
Angela Duckworth’s work describes this persevering trait as GRIT.
I am guessing this perspective and GRIT came to me during my recovery from my near fatal car accident. It was during recovery where I developed what Angela Duckworth calls GRIT and it was what helped me develop perseverance.
Dr. Duckworth discusses GRIT in her powerful 6 minute TED Talk and in her book, GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. She notes in her book that Pete Carrol, the successful coach of the Seattle Seahawks, was upset by her presentation because he thought she suggested it was not possible to build GRIT and he thought he was helping players build GRIT. For more about Pete Carroll’s work with GRIT see “Pete Carroll joins Dr. Angela Duckworth for discussion of grit, coaching philosophy” and “Renowned psychologist impressed with Seahawks’ ‘culture of grit’“.
Without question it is important and valuable to build GRIT to be successful. After all success never happens overnight or without follow through after multiple trials (what some call failures but I refer to as steps in the process).
Progress requires a Growth rather than a Fixed Mindset as established in Carol Dweck’s work. Researchers of success emphasizes the need for a Growth rather than a Fixed Mindset in the pursuit of progress. For more about Carol Dweck’s work you can see her TED Talk: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve and or a discussion at this post:Concept: Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad.
With regard to failures, I just listened to the wonderful Freakonomics podcast that I found to be both educational and inspirational: How to Fail Like a Pro. Their podcast captures many of these ideals – I encourage you to listen.
I look forward to hearing about your successes so we can all enjoy progress. I will work for progress by generating comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits, or by practicing paneugenesis. I look forward to hearing about the progress you help generate.
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