Don’t be afraid to fail, choose to grow

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

Coming to this understanding happens in four stages.

The first is to realise that it is not just our own life that is becoming more difficult to predict and control but the entire world. So many changes are happening in technology, politics, society, and the environment that any project, started by any person, is likely to turn out differently from the way they initially expected. It’s not just us, it’s everything.

Realising this and accepting it enables us to let go of our emotional attachment to achieving any specific outcome and yet still do our best to achieve it. Then, if things don’t turn out in the way we wanted or expected, it is easier to move on. This is the attitude that enabled Thomas Edison to invent the lightbulb: “I have not failed,” he said, “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

The second stage is to realise that if we can’t rely on the outside world to be stable and predictable then it is more important than ever to give ourselves the internal stability and direction we need. The more deeply we understand our own purpose and values and what a worthwhile life looks like to us, the more deeply we know who we are and who we most want to become, the more we will then be able to respond with focus, flexibility, and enthusiasm no matter what happens. Then we will understand that, 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.”

The third stage is to realise that ten years ago we did not have the skills we have today. The skills we have today arose directly from the challenges we faced in the past. So the apparent challenges we face today are actually opportunities for us to become whoever we most want to become in the future. Because we get to choose what we prioritise, we get to choose how we respond. This puts us back in control. And the clearer we are about what matters most to us, the more easily we will then be able to choose the opportunities that most inspire us.

This brings us to the fourth stage: the realisation that we are not just human beings we are human becomings. We are not the same people today as we were five, ten, or 20 years ago. And we are not the same people as we will be in five or ten years from now. We are human becomings and we are always changing. The only choice we have is how actively we choose to become the person we most want to become

In this time of change, no-one can predict what is going to happen. That’s just the way it is.

The only thing we can be sure of is that the future will be created by the people who felt the most inspired to make it happen. 

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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