“There is no such thing as failure, only feedback”
This phrase was given to me by a clinical psychology service lead. At first I thought it was a nice, catchy statement but I didn’t give it much thought. Some time later I read the book ‘Antifragile’ by Nassim Taleb and suddenly I realised the real wisdom involved.
The concept is so simple yet is so freeing. Imagine a world where you can never fail.
To understand the antifragile concept imagine a parcel. Many parcels are labelled fragile – if their contents are disturbed then they could break. Now imagine the opposite of this. Many people would imagine that the parcel would contain an object that could withstand any disturbance. This parcel would be labelled robust. Is this really the opposite though? If we think of the true opposite it would be a parcel containing something that would be improved through disturbance. Where the fragile contents break these contents are strengthened. The box would be labelled ‘please disturb’. This is antifragile.
Let’s transition this thought process into our own lives. How do we apply it? The power is to say any situation where people may assume you have failed is just an opportunity to get better. Contained within any failure is a vast amount of information that you can learn from. Traditionally people ignore this information and dwell on the failure. We need to flip this. Forget the failure, it is a myth, focus on the information you have gained, that information will allow you to be successful next time you encounter a similar situation.
We can take this concept even further, if it is helpful to fail then should we not fail more often? If we remove the fear of failure we can expose ourselves to so many more challenging situations. We may not be successful at first but the information we gather allows us to accelerate our rates of success in the future.
Hopefully this simple explanation has flicked a few switches for you reading this. It is a beautifully simple idea yet it does take some practice to implement. We live in a world where everything is classified as either a success or a failure. We need to step out of this world, understand that others will still want to classify our actions as failures. We have to remove our ego from the situation, just smile, knowing that you have just got better.