Failure, Feedback, No Failure, Only Feedback | Wealth of Mind

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There's no such thing as failure

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is built on a number of presuppositions, or assumptions, which give us a framework upon which to understand ourselves and others, and which when used, allow us to be more successful and happier in the world.  In my coming articles, I will be exploring these ways of thinking with you, to allow you to examine your own ways of thinking about and operating in the world, and to open up the possibilities of new ways of thinking.

One of the presuppositions of NLP is:  ‘There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.’  When things don’t go as we hope in the world, we can interpret it in one of two ways – we can look upon it negatively as a failure, or we can view it simply as feedback which gives us information about what we can do next.

Consider for a moment, an airplane, travelling across the world.  If we were to look at the route the plane takes, we would find that it does not travel to its destination in a perfectly straight line.  Instead, the course of the plane is constantly being corrected, as weather, flight zones, and other planes are taken into account.  That means that for most of the journey, the plane is actually heading in the wrong direction.  At no stage though, do the pilots look at the direction they’re travelling in, project where they’ll end up according to their current direction, realize if they keep going that way, they’ll miss their destination by hundreds of kilometres and simply give up.  Instead, they simply correct their course to get themselves going in the direction they want once more.

We can use the same sort of feedback system in our lives.  When we take an action, we often expect a certain kind of response.  If we don’t get the response we want, instead of viewing that response as a failure, we can choose instead to view it as feedback, and realize that we need to do something differently to get the response we want.  Viewing that response as feedback gives us power and choices as to what we do next, as opposed to failure, which is a dead end, leaving us feeling negative and less likely to pursue a similar endeavour in the future.

Feedback is positive.  Failure is negative.  Failure makes us feel bad, gives us a poor self image and can lead to low levels of achievement.  Feedback on the other hand gives us the information we need to make new choices, to adjust our behavior, and to try new strategies.  If we habitually keep this presupposition in mind – that there is no such thing as failure, there is only feedback, we cannot fail.  We just learn, adjust and improve, therefore increasing our chances of being who we want to be in the world.

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