Learning from failure
I attended Calgary Chamber’s after hours event where I had a chance to listen to the two time winter Olympian Jessie Lumsden. As some of you know, at the Sochi Olympics he was part of the team whose bobsleigh crashed. He and the pilot did not suffer any injuries, so they could continue with other team-members, but their Olympic dream of winning a medal crashed together with the sleigh.
It was amazing to listen to Jessie speak about the determination to learn from the failure rather than let the ‘fog’ overcome him. Fog is something that descends on people when they have failed and they cannot seem to get out of it – keep crying about the tough luck and are unable to move forward. It hit home with me, because very often what I help my clients with is getting out of that fog of self-pity and self-doubt. Once things haven’t gone very well for some time, people start doubting their dreams, skills and experience. They start fearing returning phone calls to people – what if they don’t want to hear from me. Every activity starts seeming useless – nobody is interested anyway..
Jessie Lumsden was telling us how he had a choice. He could drown in self-pity and let the fog take over or he could choose to make the maximum of his four year preparation for the Olympics. He chose to take the maximum and together with the other team member who did not get injured in the crash, they took two new team-mates and went for another run. He knew that they are not going to win, in fact, he knew that they will be last. But he had a chance to participate, learn from the failure and give two team-mates a chance to call themselves an Olympian. They were extra team-mates who would not have had a chance to participate in the race otherwise and would not have been able to be olympians.
This is such a beautiful example of learning from failure. We all fail or make mistakes every day – not such huge ones as Jessie – 4 years of preparation ending in a crash. It will take him 4 more years before he will be able to be in the run for medals again. We are only human and it is natural that once we start pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone, things do not always go as planned. What we do is learn and thus next time we will be able to make progress easier. If we pull back after first mistake or failure and let the fog take over, we can never experience the joy of learning and achieving. The fulfilment of creating something that truly matters to us.
Let’s learn from Jessie Lumsden and keep picking ourselves up and moving forward after we have failed and let’s not let the fog descend on us and take over. If you feel that you could use a bit support in learning from failure and could do with coaching on how to make progress with your plans, I’d love to hear from you!