• Jorim Holtey-Weber

Did You Fail? Or Did You Learn?

What is the difference between failure and feedback?

I follow a philosophy of life that helps me enjoy life more and helps me grow. Based on this philosophy, I decided that there would be no more failure in my life anymore. Let me explain what that means to me.

Not having any failure in my life anymore did not mean changing any of my behaviours, it did not mean only doing things that I was certain would work out, it did not mean not trying new things. What it meant was that I changed the way I think about situations.

Instead of looking at a situation that turned out differently than I wished as a failure, I would look at it as feedback. That way, I do not put myself down but rather am grateful for the opportunity to learn (and life is all about learning)!

I like using small children as examples when it comes to learning. They try out new things all the time and yes, they stumble and fall many times before they walk but this stumbling and falling is not a failure. It is feedback! In their case, it tells them they are not strong enough yet and they do not have sufficient balance yet to walk – and that they have to keep working on it.

Another example can be seen in language learning. Why is it that small children learn languages faster than adults (who have a more developed brain)? It is because small children have not developed the notion of “failure” yet. They are not afraid to try out and say something even though it might be wrong. They see everything as feedback instead. That is why they learn so quickly!

Yes, at times this can be difficult to adopt this attitude. For me, it is an ideal that I strive towards and sometimes it requires more mental effort and attention than other times (and sometimes I even get trapped in negative cycles). That is okay. I do not have to be perfect.

This mindset is also aligned with more spiritual approaches that declare that everything that you encounter in life is there for you to learn. And that, when you keep facing the same challenges, it is because there is still something to learn that you have not figured out yet.

Adopting such a mindset can be very calming and empowering at the same time. You can stop asking “why me?” and start raising the questions “what is there to learn from this situation?”.

And that is what I would like to invite you to do: start asking

What is there to learn from this situation?


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