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We had on our hands what the internet calls a “Pinterest fail”.

My family sat in stunned silence. All eyes were on the platter I was placing on the table for dinner of something completely unidentifiable. Siblings nervously glanced sideways at each other. I waited, trying to predict which family member would be brave enough to say something first- and wondering how long the line at the Chick-fil-a drive thru was.

All of a sudden, the silence was broken by my husband’s deep belly laugh. The kids joined in as it felt safe to acknowledge the dinner they were about to eat really didn’t look like food. That night, everyone laughed until it was hard to breathe, me included. This epic failure was actually pretty dang funny.

I had tried to make a new recipe I found on Pinterest. It promised to be quick and easy, a real crowd pleaser. Dinner time at our house typically involves a lot of hands on deck helping out, but as the family was going in a million directions that day, I was prepping in the kitchen that evening by myself. I was excited to try this new recipe and thought it would be perfect for our busy weeknight- but it just didn’t turn out as expected.

That happens sometimes.

You can google “Pinterest fails” and entertain yourself for some time with pictures from others- like myself- who attempted something a little above their current skill set.

The thing is, everyone fails in life. Everyone. Sometimes, we associate failure with defeat, or imagine that failure equates to something being fundamentally wrong with us. The fear of failure may keep us from ongoing efforts to develop skills in areas that are meaningful to us.

What can failure teach us?

Haven’t failed lately? Maybe it’s time.  Failure indicates an attempt to try something new, to push yourself, to grow and develop! Thomas Edison is heralded as America’s greatest inventor, but he was well acquainted with failure. Some of my favorite quotes about failure come from him, in fact. In reference to his many attempts to invent the lightbulb, he quipped, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Shift your mindset about failure. Thomas Edison explained his philosophy on the benefit of failure this way- “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” One of the interesting things we understand about perfectionism is that it can correlate to a fear of trying something where success isn’t guaranteed. Our need to do things perfectly can inhibit us from exposure to growth opportunities! Try shifting your mindset from perfection to growth. The goal isn’t to do something right, but to grow and learn from the experience.

Practice Perseverance

Our friend Mr. Edison put it this way, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” We all have days where we just want to throw in the towel. Develop the skill of perseverance. Remember, even a little progress each day adds up.

Celebrate lessons learned from failure. Take a look back at the times in your life where real growth occurred. Chances are, there was some failure mixed into that experience. Become curious about the role of failure in the life of people you admire. Were there lessons learned there that shaped who that person became?

The next time you fail, leave room for the idea that there may be some invaluable wisdom gained from the experience of failing. Celebrate the spirit of the “pinterest fail”- and try not to take yourself too seriously.  Then try, try again. As Edison teaches us, you now have the benefit of knowing how not to do it.

 

References

Thomas A. Edison Quotes (Author of Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3091287.Thomas_A_Edison.

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