Don’t be afraid to fail, choose to grow

People climbing a cliff face

A time of change can make our lives seem difficult but it also brings us opportunities.

Understanding this comes in four stages.

The first is to realise that it is not just our own lives but the whole world that is becoming more difficult to predict and control. Massive changes are happening in technology, politics, society, and the environment — so any project we start out on might turn out differently from the way we expected.

Accepting this allows us to let go of our emotional attachment to any specific outcome, yet still do our best to achieve it. This frees us like Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, to say:

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”

The second stage is to realise that this approach will work best when we know who we are and who we want to become: when we know our purpose and values and what a worthwhile life looks like for us. Then we can combine focus with flexibility. Then, as Zig Ziglar put it:

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”

And the third stage is to realise that ten years ago we did not have the skills we have today. The skills we have now arose directly from the challenges we faced in the past. So the so-called ‘challenges’ we face today are actually opportunities for us to become the kind of person we want to become. And if we know our purpose and values then we can choose which opportunities we engage with — there are ten types to choose between. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity.

This brings our final insight: to realise that we are not just human beings but human becomings. Nothing around us is fixed or certain. Our only choice is whether we attempt to become, or not to become who we truly uniquely are.

In this time of change, new opportunities are emerging all the time. If we have the tools to find those opportunities, choose the one that matters most to us, and then inspire ourselves and others to make that happen then we can be confident that, no matter what happens, we will be able to find a new way forward.

Then this time of change becomes an opportunity: to understand ourselves better and become who we most want to become.

So don’t be afraid to fail, choose to grow.

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Kevin Dooley via

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