Confidence AdviceLB's Corner
Let’s Talk About Failure

I wish we talked more about failure. Like everywhere – work, home, friends, with your kids.

To build confidence, I say we must embrace it, and the bigger the better! 

One is because failure suffocates perfectionism, but more so because failure prevents shame.

It is a natural human instinct to avoid failure. It’s also natural when we do encounter it, to internalize it. That means we hide it and bury it deep where others won’t find it. But when we don’t air out our failures, we create a deadly equation:

Failure + Aloneness = Shame

Shame is when we absorb our failures. They go on a loop and they pull in their friends called blame and rejection, and that total brat named mockery. Really, my little voice gets NASTY if I don’t keep her in check. Then after we bury it deep we abandon it somewhere we’ll never look for again. 

Abandoned shame pits turn into land mines. You know them. They’re the “hot button” that helps us snap at our spouse, overreact with friends, or even quit jobs. I recognize a hot button when I catch myself yelling or feeling irrationally depressed and alone about something. I know it’s not just about that slight jab from my mother-in-law, she touched a hot button. 

If we could refuse to hide it and instead shine a light on the fault, its power evaporates. This happens because we learn we aren’t alone. If I’m brave enough to share a fail then someone else will join me, and a third person will make it normal, and a whole room of people who agree means, well, everything. Suddenly we aren’t the biggest loser in the world, we’re kind of great! Nothing to see here! I don’t have to feel ashamed of this or protect myself or avoid this topic. 

Confidence is the deep-seated belief that I’m ok. It’s not about my pride in my abilities, it’s my love for myself just the way I am – not the way social media or my dog think I am. That means all the mistakes and gray hair and failure.

If you’re working on building your own confidence, start here. Rumi says, “The wound is where the light enters.” Chew on that for a minute.

And if you’re helping build the confidence of a loved one or employee, talk more about failure. Yours, theirs, people you admire. It’s not easy to get there, but if you can make it OK, you can change everything. 

What if we could all reward spectacular misses? What if we could all live without shame? I think we’d see more risk-taking and more authenticity, and maybe even more confident people resisting the urge to tear others down.

A girl can dream.