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 three stages.

The first is to realise that the whole world is becoming more difficult to predict and control, not just our own lives. 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”

This approach will work best when we know who we are and who we want to become: when we know what our purpose and values are and what a worthwhile life looks like for us. Then we become able to combine focus with flexibility. Or 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.”

Our third opportunity comes when we 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. If we know our purpose and values then we can choose which opportunities we engage with, knowing that there are ten different types of opportunity to look for. And the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity.

This creates our final opportunity: 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 are.

In this time of change, new opportunities are emerging all the time. If we have the tools to find those opportunities, choose which one is best for us, and turn that into an inspiring vision, then no matter what happens around us we can be confident we will be able to find a new way forward.

When we know all this then this time of change becomes an opportunity: to get to know 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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