I just heard that The Museum of Failure in Brooklyn opened last week (https://museumoffailure.com). It’s primarily a collection of product fails through the last 5 decades or so. I’m happy to be celebrating failure. Their slogan is “Innovation Needs Failure!” I’m not so sure I can say I’ve been innovative, unless one considers resourcefulness as an innovation, but I can say with absolute certainty that I, too, have a history of failures.
Though certainly not my first or last, but within vivid memory, is my failed first driving test. I remain an anxious driver. Lucky for me and other vehicles on the road, I live in Manhattan, have not owned a car since my late teens, and rarely drive. At the time, I was 17, did not want to take the bus to high school anymore, and was horrified that I failed. I didn’t want to drive so much as reap the benefits of being a driver, but I could not face my friends and classmates admitting to this personal and social failure.
It’s taken me long time to own my failures. When I was younger, I was horrified to share any failures. Either I was afraid I’d get in trouble, or I was afraid I’d be judged poorly. Though I experienced both, it was my own self-judgement that was harsher than anything I endured by others. Luckily, the long line of mistakes I’ve made in this life have allowed me the opportunity to soften my judgement, and simply see mistakes as part of the human experience.
Hopefully over the years I’ve learned from my mistakes. Sadly, some mistakes hurt others by over sharing, or needing to fulfill some personal need rather than understanding that it would harm some else. I lost friends given my poor judgement. But I’ve also had friends who had a forgiving heart and understood I was lost or misguided, forgiving me, and allowing me to do better. It is those friends, therapists, and family members who fostered change and growth. I will always be grateful to them. And I am now grateful to those who walked away because they didn’t want to be hurt again. They taught me to do better and be better and to treat myself with care rather than look to others to validate me, especially when vulnerable.
I look forward to making the trip to the Museum of Failure. There’s something comforting in knowing it’s out there.
- When you’ve failed at something, write in a journal how it feels, and, when possible, what you learned that will help you in the future. Try as best you can to be gentle with yourself, appreciating that the failure is part of the journey.
- When speaking on the phone purposely smile. There is research to suggest that smiling lightens one’s speaking tone allowing for a more positive interaction.
- Throughout the day repeat the phrase, aloud or internally, “I am Enough.” Experiencing ourselves as enough releases the pressure to be more, better, or different.