No failure, only feedback

I am beginning to think I’ve failed.

For the last month, I’ve been writing and talking about failure. About what it means to me and to those I speak with.

And for the last month people have tuned out, turned off and generally not engaged.

On Insta, Facebook, LinkedIn, all the socials, nothing. Comments on blogs stopped.




What is it about failure that we’re so afraid to engage with?

Here are some facts:

  • Failure is a sign that you’re trying something.

  • Failure is a sign you’re testing the water.

  • Failure is a sign you’re putting yourself out there.

Failure is a sign you’ve got a goal and that you’re striving to achieve it.

And you know we fail every to find a carpark right in front of the supermarket, we fail to go for the walk we promised we’d take, we fail to address an issue with our boss or co-worker.

So many failures. and yet we don’t shrivel up and die.

Every day we work with failure, we accept it. We drive to the next closest aisle in the carpark and we try again.

One of my mentors says, “There is no failure, only feedback”.

There are a few reasons I like this and one of the reasons is that it sheds some light on why so many people are afraid of failure…..

People are afraid of the feedback from others.

People are afraid to hear what others think of our offering, our service, what we’re doing or how we’re being.

Really, what’s the worst that could happen?

Feedback, when viewed as a gift, gives you answers to what you don’t know yet.

The gift of feedback gives you the opportunity to change something, be different and most of all it gives us the opportunity to improve and grow.

The problem begins when you internalise the feedback and see it as a reflection of your value as a person.

1. Seek feedback to improve

I recall being in a Social Media Marketing course and I thinking, this is it! I have the magic elixir to bring more people to my page!

Then the trainer shared that when you start out, you will get zero Likes. For ages, you'll get Zero comments and very, very low engagement.

And this is feedback. No that you're failing, just feedback that there's more to do.

She said that low engagement is feedback that something is not quite hitting the mark yet with your audience. Your message needs a tweek.

It’s feedback that you need to keep testing and measuring.

She also said that consistency in anything is where the magic happens.

You don’t expect to play the guitar or run 10km in your first week of trying! It takes time and effort before you get hold of the basics.

It takes even longer to become a master some say 10,000 hours, some say less.

2. Let go of the need to be perfect.

Susan Jeffers, author of the timeless book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway has a chapter in her book called, “How to make a No-Lose Decision”.

In this chapter, Susan Jeffers talks about how humans shy away from trying new things for fear of failing.

She says that this is the problem with being brought up to “be careful” and always told we should make the so-called “right decision”. Jeffers says that this upbringing has actually served to make us run away from making decisions or taking a risk.

I mean, what does the ‘right decision’ look like anyway?

“Our need to be perfect and our need to control the outcome of events work together to keep us petrified when we think about making a change or attempting a new challenge”.

You can’t look at the unknown and try to predict the future.

What would have been your response if, in 2019, I had told you that in 2020 a global pandemic would cripple the world's economies, stop international travel and kill millions of people?

You’d laugh at me when I told you that in 2021 Australia would be a very divided nation, the army would be on the streets checking to make sure people stayed at home.

You’d be rolling on the floor to hear that some state governments would impose curfews to keep half of Australia’s population locked in their homes for more than 200 days.

This was unthinkable and unknown.

You can’t look at the unknown and try to predict the future.

3. Accept what you can’t control and move on.

Try as you might, even the most controlling of us can’t control it all.

Now is the time to recognise and accept that there are just some things you can’t control:

· Time

· The weather

· Cats – no one can control cats

· The past

· What others say

· What others feel

· What others think

Trying to control the uncontrollable doesn't expand your life or enhance your health and wellbeing. And it’s exhausting and a huge waste of your precious time and effort.

Time and effort that will serve you better planning and executing those things that bring you joy, fulfilment or wealth.

Susan Jeffers’in her “No Lose Model” suggests a change to how we think.

Rather than looking at the choices and thinking “what if I make the wrong decision?”, she suggests we look at the opportunities in each of the choices.

Whatever you choose you win! This is because either way, you get feedback.

A great example is when leaders and business owners start on the road to improving team or company culture.

Often what holds leaders back is what others will think if they change their behaviours.

“What will my team think if I start acting differently?”, “What will they say if I start taking the time to ask about their weekend?”.

You can’t control what others think.

Stop trying to put thoughts into other people’s heads (another thing you can't do).

When your intention comes from a good place, when you are consistent in your words and in your actions, you will build trust.

It will take time.

So what is it about feedback that are you afraid of?

Are you afraid that things might get better?

Are you afraid that you might learn something new?

Are you afraid that someone might say that you’ve really helped them? Or that you’re doing an awesome job?


Emma Taberner is a qualified Leadership and Executive Coach, Speaker, Facilitator, author and self-confessed Human Behaviour nerd. With over 20 years Supply Chain industry experience and 10 years coaching and mentoring frontline leaders, she is passionate about helping small business owners and their teams to understand how their behaviours determine their leadership and effectiveness in business, relationships and in life. Emma works One to One, with groups, both face 2 face and online.

When she’s not building future leaders you can find her flying small planes, being in the outdoors, growing her own food and hanging out with her husband of over 20 years.

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