Feedback vs. Failure

“You always pass failure on the way to success.”

–Mickey Rooney

Feedback vs. Failure

by Steve Straus

Nobody likes to fail; it feels yucky.

Failure is the reaction you have when something doesn’t turn out the way you wanted or expected it to. Notice the word “reaction” in that sentence. Failure is not about the thing, it’s about your reaction to the thing.

Failure is a judging of events and/or yourself. “I failed to…” has a downer context. It’s not about wishing or hoping things had turned out a different way — although those may be in the mix also — it’s primarily about feeling less-than.

You can deal with the same events in a different way. You can treat everything as feedback. “I did this and that happened.” No judging, only learning. If what you do gives you the results you want, do more of it. If not, do less.

Staying in the question “what really happened here?” leaves you open to get feedback.

Feedback teaches. Feedback grows.

Experiencing the world as a sequence of potential failures is draining and diminishing.

Coaching Point: It’s not easy to give up a lifetime of seeing failures. What can you do so that the next “failure” you have you see through the lens of “feedback?”

Copyright 2007 Steve Straus. All rights reserved. Steve Straus can be contacted at

Coaching Call to Action

I am in the process of doing things differently in my day to day life. I am being less structured in my approach and am “integrating” all my roles into one. Here is the image: I used to wear a lot of different hats. I am now weaving a new hat that incorporates all the different hats. To me this means really listening to what pulls me forward and gives me energy and what drains me at any given time. It is an experiment. Throughout the experiment, I keep checking in to see what feels right and what has me feeling out of sorts. Will this experiment be a success? I don’t know. Am I willing to keep at it? You bet! And I know whether I “succeed” or “fail”, I will learn from it. And that learning will allow me to continue to grow and weave an even more authentic hat.

What are you doing in your life this week that has you stretching and trying new things? And how are you assessing yourself during the process? Are you open to feedback?