Now there’s an interesting point. We’re always told to learn from our failures, but how often are we encouraged to learn from our successes? After all, there are important lessons and a lot to motivate you in examining what went well and how it could be even better.
Life coaches often invite you to think back to a time when it was all going swimmingly, you were on top of your game, experiencing a feeling of mastery, enjoying appreciation and then using that as an anchor, in your visualisations, for going forward. Those fleeting moments when you felt best, during your successes, is a feeling that we all would like to repeat and it’s often a good guide to the aspects of your being that are your authentic self.
For me, the best successes and feelings of accomplishment associate with finishing the building of something complex, yet elegant (in wood, metal, electronics, software, whatever) or with making music in the recording studio, using the technology available to make new sounds and songs. I also have very good memories of connecting with audiences, when performing. I love the feeling of coming up with a new sound or of figuring out how somebody else did so (it’s harder than you think!).
I also enjoy the feeling of having finished a particularly colourful and affecting painting or of having written something that I felt had clarity and originality, which other people responded to positively. I enjoy experimenting with my art and being pleased with how the experiment turns out. I like discovering hidden truths, by making connections other people miss. I love coming up with innovative ideas that are clearly plausible and will make a difference. They give me hope.
On very rare occasions, I have won at sport and usually by deciding to do so in the moment, with determination and focus (which in all honesty I struggle to maintain, where sport is concerned). My other moments of success are the comforting and warm feelings that have recurred in being with my family and drawing together to face challenges.
As much as I despair about the way many (maybe most) people behave and think, I actually love people. I cannot deny it. I find people endlessly fascinating and astonishingly creative, when they access that facility. I wish them all the best, the whole time and love to encourage them. It’s lovely when somebody you encourage goes on to do something amazing.
These are not my failures. These are instances where I got things right. Learning from these has to be of at least as much value as poring over the wreckage of the all too frequent failures we all experience, surely.
Mastery of something is a good indication that you loved to do that thing and that, motivated and curious to learn, you reached a high standard. That success is important information for you and can help in planning your next goal or challenge. We’ve all heard the phrase “going from strength to strength”. Accessing the feeling of doing well, remembering what brought you to that place, at that time and applying that to your present situation only makes good sense, I think.
So, by all means learn from your failures. A failure is usually the result of trying to do something you hadn’t tried to do before. There’s nobility in that and plenty of useful information in any examination of the reasons or causes of your failure. But also learn from your successes. I think you might learn faster and better by accessing those moments in your life when you were unbeatable and when you shone. Don’t be dismissive or self deprecating about your achievement. Honour and analyse your moments of indefatigability and indomitability (if these words are not in your working vocabulary, I insist you look them up immediately!). Remember when you roared and find that voice again. By learning from those successes, you might find ways to shine even more brightly.
Shine on, you crazy diamonds!
(Or a funnier benediction: shine on you, crazy diamonds)