Do You Give Yourself a Safe Place to Fail?

Find your way Life is “trying things to see if they work.” – Ray Bradbury

I recently met a man in line for coffee who works for a company that offers technology for grade schools that allows learning to be personalized to the level of the individual student so each can get the specific support they need. I love hearing about such innovative practices.

As we talked he mentioned a report about why gaming is so popular among the young. Even though they experience an 85 to 90% failure rate as they play, they learn from their mistakes and get better in the process. “It gives them a safe place to fail” he said.

I love that idea. “That’s exactly like the creativity”, I responded. It’s why as a creativity coach I encourage people to fall in love with the process. Just like the experience of gamers when we relax and play with the process we learn and grow and that feels really good. It’s also the only way we can create something new, original and authentic.

Our culture and educational systems teach us that mistakes aren’t okay; that there are real negative consequences to making mistakes; that we actually can fail. Yet the only way we learn is by our willingness to fail, and discover what works and what doesn’t.

So how do we give ourselves a safe place to fail, when the world around us doesn’t support that. What if our heart and soul know the value of failure. What is the safe place to fail is the love, kindness and encouragement we can extend ourselves from that deeper place of knowing regardless of how the world see it?

From my own years of writing I have had countless pages of stories and poems that never really took off and were never finished. I always instinctively knew that this was part of the learning process of being a writer. Enjoying the process without being attached to a particular outcome gave me a safe place to learn and grow. This allowed me to finish pieces that gave me a deep sense of satisfaction.

I love the story of Steve Jobs, who after being fired from Apple, went to work for Pixar films and entered into one of the most creative times in his life. Rather than seeing it as a failure he saw it as an opportunity. Can we learn to do that for ourselves? What does our safe place to fail look like? How can we create that to ourselves?

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