Fail Better: The power of mistakes

Published on 15th May 2019 under Blog Topic - Uncategorised,

I’ve being researching the area of resilience; what a fascinating subject! Whilst rooting through files, I found this reference to an exhibition held 5 years ago at Dublin’s Science Gallery, called Fail Better (Source: This exhibition explored the role of “beautiful, heroic and instructive” failure. I think we all need to remind ourselves of this, the beautiful, heroic and instructive role of a mistake; failure is often our greatest teacher, mentor and guide. This is a far cry from the Facebook, Instagram or digitally enhanced version of instant success,. Instead it is a version of reality that requires true grit, failing, falling and getting back up again.

We now know a lot more about resilience and how to develop resilience in our life, due largely to positive psychology and modern brain scanning equipment. So what do we know?

  1. Resilience is an active process to counteract stress.
  2. The brain/body experiences the stress and responds.
  3. Often things have to get worse before they get better, so stress symptoms are more pronounced before brains kick into counterbalance.
  4. Resilience is not a trait but it is something that can be learned and developed.

So how can we develop our resilience muscle?

I’ve included two suggestions here:

  1. Find opportunities for self – discovery and learning. This trains our mind and body to respond to stress in a hopeful and stimulated way. So take up that drama class, join that volunteer group, learn Spanish or swimming or Salsa! Learning something new in a positive environment will help us relax and our mind/body will recognise that perfection is not required but fun and learning is!
  2. Develop your decision making ability. In times of stress, we become less sure and trusting of ourselves and more hesitant. Makes sense – but we can stay in that freeze zone. However, if we start making small decisions we will experience just how empowering and motivation making a decision can be. We now have focus, purpose and can direct our energy in a given direction. Move away from procrastination and step into decisive action.

Why not truly believe that there is valuable learning and lessons in all of our endeavours?

Among the Fail Better exhibits was Jim Dyson, the famous investor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Q: Do you know how many prototypes he created of the bagless vacuum cleaner?

A: 5,127 prototype designs between 1979 and 1984.

I’m sure many people told Dyson to give up, move on, get real! But Jim Dyson had the courage of his conviction and continued.

Therefore my new mantra is that all our efforts are leading us somewhere…an evolution of our skills, attitude, understanding. Ranulph Fiennes, was also in the exhibition, (three attempts to climb Mount Everest!), he put it best when he said his greatest lesson was “not to try to keep up with people”. So really there is no race with others, including the CAO point race, there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS a way to pursue your dream and your potential.

So try, try some more, try some more again….and follow your own path at your own pace!

If you’d like to learn more ways to develop personal resilience, why not get in touch!