Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Succeed at Embracing Failure

Leave it to the Finnish to come up with something so mind bogglingly-simple and yet fiendishly clever. I read about it online somewhere and was intrigued by the idea, one apparently inspired by the “last taboo of Finnish society”.

That taboo? Failure.

A couple of years ago a movement in Finland began and it wasn’t meant to be successful. Actually that’s a bit wrong as while the movement was hoped to be a success it wasn’t about success – it was about failure and embracing the concept of failure. It encouraged Finnish people to not go out and do the things they were already good at but to do the things they were terrible at and likely to really, really mess up – public speaking, dancing, baking, whatever it was they wanted people to fail.
Wanted people to fail? What nonsense is this, you might wonder? The idea behind it was that people are so consumed with success that they often will avoid trying anything new or different because of the big f word: Failure. We all hunger for success, for being good at what we do and accomplished, but who really wants to fail? Nobody, that’s who, and the Finns decided this fear was preventing their people from growing in the way trying new things – and failing at them, sometimes miserably – does.

So they established a day to celebrate failure. Seriously. An entire day devoted to trying things you are awful at and failing horribly and sharing the stories of your abject failure with others, maybe garnering a laugh or some sympathy. The entire idea was to try something new, or even something you already knew you sucked at, and failing – and then instead of bemoaning the failure and your fundamental inadequacies as a human being celebrating that you tried and failed.
When I read it I was immediately delighted with the idea. It is so true as just like most I am fond of my successes and far less attached to my failures. In fact I would prefer to not fail, often going out of my way to avoid the things I am terrible at to ensure I do not have to face the dreaded f word and acknowledge my lack of accomplishment.

But I think the Finns are onto something here. I think perhaps a failure movement is a brilliant idea, one designed to not only encourage us to do new things and things we are awful at but that shows us that failure is okay. Failure on occasion in fact might be exactly what we need to remind us to do the things that scare us or that worry us or that we are likely 100% guaranteed to fail at doing.
The Finns celebrate their Day of Failure on October 13, so we have lots of time to plan our failures. I don’t know about you, but I am planning to do something epic – and fail in the most spectacular and horrendous way. And I’ve never been so excited about failure in my entire life, either.

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