Thursday, December 12, 2013

Moving On: Five tips I have learnt from 'failure' and loss

Everyone fails or loses at some point or another, it's part of the human condition.  Some people argue that innovation comes from failure, that this is the impetus behind evolution.  But when we have a major loss or spectacular failure 'moving on' is difficult.  How do you do it?  Here are my five top tips:

1) Ask for help - or if you can provide help, then provide it.  It will be reciprocated. 
Take one day at a time to start with, just focus on how you're going to get through the day at first.  Silent and lonely grief and anguish can turn in to a negative cycle and lead to depression - can you nip it in the bud by asking for help? Perhaps you don't want to be on your own at this time - are there friends and family you can stay with?  Can you practice cooking or fending for yourself on a friend or family member?  Utilise all the resources at your disposal.  If someone has said to you 'let me know if there's anything I can do to help' now might be the time to call in that favour.    If there's nobody then ask the professionals.  Is there a structure at work you can tap into?  Are there free services out there you could ask?  Have you told your GP about this major challenge you are facing?  They can tell you about services you could tap into.  We're such an independent species that asking for help is the biggest challenge most people face.  If you haven't had a failure or loss recently perhaps you're in a position to say to someone you know who has, the most important question you may ever ask: 'Is there anything I can do to help?'

2) Preparation is key
I believe you can prepare for a major loss, like the loss of a parent.  In the brilliant book by Richard Reoch, Dying Well the last page suggests that we ask ourselves three questions which I have boiled down to two; 'How would you like to be treated if you were dying and what would you like people to say?'  As a result of reading this, I said to one of my great friends just before she died that we all loved her very much.  She said 'Thank you very much Anna'.  I'm glad that was our last conversation.  We need to concentrate on having positive interactions with our loved ones, as we never know when we are going to lose them.  Preparing well for loss is just about telling our loved ones how much we appreciate them and love them as often as we can.  Preparing for failure is different.  When we are preparing for failure we are visualising success. Once we've failed we need to prepare to get ready to 'try again' or go down a different route.  When trying again, have a plan that attacks your weaknesses from the failed attempt, work from the feedback and what you learned.

3) Be open
A tricky one this as our enemies can attack our weaknesses if we are open about them.  But you need to be open with yourself - why did you fail?  How come you are not coping with a loss?  Only by being open can the help be tailored to fit your needs.  By being open you are being a great role model for others, they will be open back to reflect your behaviour.  This openness challenges corruption and lies.  Love and truth stem from open books.

4) Write down what you have learnt
& Pin it where you see it every day.  'Be kind to myself', 'Prioritise my health' 'Count my blessings', 'Remember the good times'  & 'I deserve the best'.  If you can't come up with any learnings from your loss or failure, then pin up some motivational quotes, you can source these from the internet.  Also ask close friends and family to tell you what your good qualities are - stick these on your fridge or computer monitor.  Come back to these learnings in 6 months, a year, 5 years.  There will be other things you have learnt that you can add to your list.

5) 'KBO'
Winston Churchill's less famous quotation was 'Keep Buggaring On'. Or in other words when it gets tough, the tough get going. Just keep going; perseverance, endurance and persistence are the true hallmarks of a survivor. We must carry on in the face of adversity and keep trying to exist in this incredible world.  If you have problems with this, then go back to 1).

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