It’s always hard to face your own faults and to accept them as a fact. You may feel blocked, dispirited, or even completely helpless, especially if the stakes were high and you’ve been anticipating a great outcome.
These emotions may remain with you for a long time, slowly draining your energy and making you feel unconfident every time you recall your fail. Obviously, such a mindset can cause many problems and move you further from reaching your goals.
The destructive effect of failures is determined by their demoralizing nature. Failures temporarily change our perception of ourselves, literally distorting the way we see ourselves.
In psychology, it is called a distortion of perception, which makes us anticipate new failures, losing self-confidence and not believing in success. Such distortions are not only bad for our career growth but also dangerous for our health.
According to a recent study, which was focused on the self-care of patients with heart diseases, those who believe that they have control over the problem, quickly develop effective self-care strategies.
On the other hand, patients who don’t believe in success miss out on many opportunities and are generally worse at self-care.
To avoid distortion of perception, you need to take control of the situation and start doing what is necessary. First of all, if you did something wrong, you still can do better.
Even if you don’t fix the already existing problem, you can always minimize the consequences of your failure or make a contribution to other spheres that will balance the negative impact.
Any failure is also a source of important knowledge — you can understand what your weak sides are and plan your further strategy taking it into account.
You can learn to manage your common points of failure and develop a completely new approach that will allow you not to face the same situation in the future.
Why Do You Need to Listen to Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is a great example of a wise and strong woman. She’s a former US Department of the Treasury chief of staff and a current Facebook COO.
Just like many leaders, she had never been too concerned about her mistakes, but the loss of her husband pushed her to reconsider her whole life and to share her priceless experience with others.
The author of Lean In and Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy admitted her mistakes publicly by sharing her thoughts with Facebook users.
After her husband passed away, Sandberg realized that she needs to keep living for her children and began her struggle against grief and hopelessness.
She shared her feelings and emotions with the wide public, and her post on Facebook got more than 74,000 comments from people from all over the world who shared their own stories.
Sheryl didn’t feel alone anymore. She realized that if sharing your thoughts with others can make the difference, there must be ways to overcome losses and failures that may help everyone.
Working with psychologists, she decided to help others build resilience and make a step towards a more meaningful life.
What Can We Learn from Sheryl Sandberg?
First of all, we need to own our mistakes. When you take accountability for your faults, you admit the simple fact that you’re just a human being. Making mistakes is a part of our nature, and we cannot be always perfect at everything.
This understanding is especially important for leaders, as they need to overcome their faults and also build a healthy work environment where everybody understands that a mistake is not the end of the career.
The second important thing is not to make your faults personal. When Sheryl’s husband died, they were on vacation. Her husband suffered from arrhythmia, but Sheryl didn’t notice his symptoms.
She was on the beach with her friends for a few hours until they’ve noticed that her husband had been absent for too long. She found him dead of a heart attack, and since then, she couldn’t stop blaming herself for not seeing his symptoms and not doing anything to help him.
The truth is, your mistakes don’t determine your personality. According to many studies, people who don’t blame themselves for mistakes and believe that they can do better, indeed show better results in the future.
When you don’t take failures personally, you can recover faster and even get stronger.
It’s also important to understand that your frustration and other negative emotions won’t last forever. Sheryl underlines that our current feelings are not permanent. Sometimes, we can make them last longer, though.
For example, when we feel depressed and focus on it, we see how our mood negatively affects various areas of our lives, and then we start feeling depressed of the very fact that we are depressed.
Sheryl says that we should accept our feelings, at the same time taking into account that these feelings will not stay with us forever. It’s better to focus on the future and plan our next actions.
3 Life-Changing Lessons from Sheryl Sandberg
- Build resilience
There are so many things that we can’t control even if we try. Such things as death or sickness, as well as financial problems, are inevitable setbacks.
Any business and any one of us goes through numerous setbacks, which shouldn’t stop us from going further and doing what we want to do. There is one thing that applies to both business and private life: We must build resilience to be able to recover.
“We all face challenges,” Sheryl says. Although some challenges are traumatic and painful, we need to get used to them and realize that we are unable to control everything.
On the other hand, we have complete control over our reactions. Resilient business organizations highly value personal responsibility and encourage their employees to open discussions.
Even though some conversations may be tough, we shouldn’t avoid talking about uncomfortable things. Even if some goals are hard to reach, it’s important to believe in success and do everything possible to keep moving further.
- Failures are valuable
Any learning process is impossible without failures. Successful companies realize it and always take failures into account, creating effective strategies for managing them and making them a part of the working process.
Sheryl Sandberg notes that Facebook encourages its employees to take risks so that they can learn from failures as well as from success. She also underlines the key role of learning on mistakes in the military, where setbacks are traditionally considered an opportunity to become stronger.
Similarly, healthcare organizations address issues of mortality and morbidity on special conferences, being able to improve their services.
In the business world, successful organizations also encourage employees to admit their failures and to talk about them. When your staff understands that it’s safe to talk about mistakes, they are less likely to repeat them in the future, being able to address all the problems in an open manner and to quickly find the necessary solutions.
In Option B, Sheryl writes about her co-worker at Google who brought a funny toy to all of their weekly meetings. It was a stuffed monkey called Woops. The team voted for the biggest failure of the week, and the winner kept Woops on his or her desk during the next week.
After the next meeting, it went to somebody else’s desk. This simple trick helped everybody keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes are not permanent.
- Lean In And Lean On
Sandberg always promotes her “lean in” conception. She reminds women around the world that they shouldn’t be afraid of difficulties.
Leaning in means leading people rather than following. It means being strong and taking risks, understanding their consequences and being ready for them.
On the other hand, Sheryl’s sad experience also taught her another lesson: There’s nothing wrong with leaning on. You must accept support and help from other people when you need it.
She knew that she couldn’t do it all alone, that’s why her husband was so important to her. When she lost her partner, she realized that the support of the family and colleagues is crucial if you want to get back on track.
Sandberg stands for family-friendly methods of management and thinks that we need better social insurance. These steps will help any company to build a trustful environment for loyal employees.
Even though every one of us makes mistakes, it is not a reason to stop doing what you want. Even the most successful companies and leaders face setbacks and need to deal with the consequences of unwanted and unexpected difficulties.
It’s important to understand that our mistakes do not determine us. All the difficulties are temporary, and it’s up to us to decide whether to keep blaming ourselves or to get back on our feet and use this experience to become stronger.
About the author
Berta Melder is an experienced brand manager and co-founder of the Masterra, creative writer and enthusiastic blogger. Being passionate about her job, she cooperates with different education courses covering a broad range of digital topics as a guest lecturer. Follow Berta on Twitter.
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