#mondaymotivation is a twitter routine where people and organisations get all whoop whoop about how GREAT the beginning of the working week is. I work with small organisations to help create their social media strategy and know it can be useful to schedule a guaranteed-to-trend hashtag but unless it's truthful it's more than wasteful, it invites criticism.
My local college has been serving the community for a century offering excellent education in a Ward that is the joint first most deprived in London. It was recently sold to the Council in fairly strange circumstances - who are now going to demolish it to build houses. We have been promised that the College is simply relocating - and no doubt it will.
Many locals have been incensed by this and their detailed research has uncovered some alarming information about what looks like financial mismanagement of some description.
All this is happening at a very high level and the day to day running of the College continues. Banners have been put up outside telling us to prepare for something wonderful and the social media is always good. But their #mondaymotivation post this morning was too revealing.
Another local organisation picked up on it and, to my joy, referenced an article debunking positive psychology. Then they referenced a blog that has been digging into the Colleges finances.
“The Management Accounts up to 31 December 2016 indicate that the College will fall significantly short of its income target for the current year. The overall shortfall is expected to be in the region of £1.7 million.
Governors expressed concern at the dramatic change in financial forecasts compared to what was reported to the Board in October, where the then Management Accounts forecast a year-end surplus of £256k.”
I have no idea about what's really going on at the College but, from a psychological stance, this tweet exposes rather too much about the uncertainty and anxiety that college staff may be feeling.
The image seems based on purposefully alarming carnival entrances designed to let you know that you're entering a world where the usual rules don't apply. It's menacing and sinister and if you walk through the gaping mouth you are consenting to enter a world that you have been blatantly warned about. You give your consent for anything to occur, especially things that are frightening and disturbing, like being eaten up. The features are based on something that is human but horrifically distorted. Clowns are ambiguous: they're supposed to be hilarious and they're notoriously creepy. They say one thing and mean the opposite. The origin of clowning is in satire, where the Fool was able to tell hard truths to powerful people as long as he kept entertaining them. And everyone knows the narrative of the deeply unhappy clown.
I'm not going to say much about the nose on the gif other than that Freud would have a field day with it, and that my more analytical colleagues would have something to say about an unconscious reference to being conned.
Positive thinking is clearly linked to denial. (Do a search for 'positive thinking denial'. The second image is of a clown with his fingers in his ears and his eyes tight shut.) Denial is a coping mechanism that allows us breathing space in which to adapt to new, unpleasant information, but refusing to accept that something is very wrong means that the world slips out of your control - like entering into a sinister carnival world. Cognitive dissonance makes the world seem confusing and threatening and, as any recovering addict will tell you, denial traps and isolates you, preventing change.
Positive thinking can result in the polar opposite of what we're told it's supposed to do, as it did today for the College. Their maniacally upbeat, ambivalently simple tweet has drawn some very serious attention that is way beyond what a social media team can be expected to deal with.
Organisationally, we always have to spin things to our advantage but this is a skilled and delicate job, one that requires complete awareness of reality and the avoidance of being seen to be misleading. Individually, attempting this kind of spin is more often than not denial at best, narcissism at worst. One way or another the truth shows itself, whether we know it or not.
*I've not addressed the spelling mistake because it may be that the person who wrote the tweet doesn't speak English as a first language. And it adds to the post's incongruence.
Hungary has come into wider European awareness for all the wrong reasons. Spending £73 million (yes, £73 million) on a 400 meter razor wire fence and anti-refugee propaganda; detaining thousands of refugees; putting them on trains; transporting them in the opposite direction from their destinations; writing numbers onto their skin; using tear gas on refugees in detention centres; splitting families up as they’re redistributed to other detention centres; directing the police to get rid of reporters . . . if Europe had begun to forget the ‘processing’ of vulnerable groups during the Second World War we were sharply reminded this week.
Hungary’s PM, Viktor Orban won the Economist’s ‘Politics of the Gutter Award” in 2007. He combines right-wing austerity and market liberalisation with Communist authoritarianism and it plays well to people who like A Strong Leader ™ more than they like a competent leader. Orban has developed his party’s relationship to the far right anti-EU party, Jobbik, the party that proposed that razor wire fence.
8 or so years ago we wouldn’t have known about all this unless we had a particular interest in Hungary, but social media has brought the rise of fascist groups, from Greece, France, Eastern Europe, Germany, Spain and elsewhere, into our homes. Most of us have ignored it, just as we clicked past the pictures of drowned children that have been brought to us for the last 18 months. But finally, the picture of three year old Aylan reached a newspaper which meant it reached everyone who went into a newsagents, whether they had a computer or not. And, in a bitter stroke of luck, Aylan’s very public death coincided with sinister events in Hungary.
When ill-will remains unchallenged, as the West has ignored Hungary for decades, it become normalised. It becomes possible to resurrect our darkest instincts and begin hunting Roma and Gay people again, to smash the windows of Jewish businesses. Here in the UK it becomes possible for us to say things to friends and colleagues and strangers at bus stops that we wouldn’t have dreamed of saying out loud 6 months ago.
Pub Geniuses say, "You've got to ask yourself, why are all these people coming over here rather than popping over to Saudi?" and they have their crowd of supporters who add totally bogus, hate-based information about free homes and benefits. Because parents put their children in leaky boats and make them walk 3,000 miles across Europe for a grotty hostel and no recourse to public funds. We say things about Muslims with impunity whilst ignoring the fact that the Far Right have murdered many more people in the UK and are a genuine and enduring terrorist threat.
When images of people being gassed and transported and processed reached Europe, Hungary suddenly changed its tune. They released the refugees, suddenly not needing all those trains and processing camps and people in uniform. A few hours later, Hungary compassionately supplied some coaches to drive the refugees the remaining few miles to the boarder. At the boarder, Austrians with blankets, food, open hearts and open minds met these determined, brave, enterprising, desperate people and welcomed them.
Germany is where most refugees want to go and they’ve opened their boarders, because they know all too well what happens when people dehumanise other human beings. The Orban government has humiliated itself, belatedly realising that, like the Pub Genius, whilst it can whip up a storm with its supporters the rest of the world can see what it’s doing. In a purely political sense it has inadvertently handed a lot of power to ordinary Hungarian citizens who have been disgusted by their governments behaviour.
And in politics as in life, power is everything.
A good part of my working week is spent in other people’s offices where I've noticed that there are little signs telling people how to use a microwave, what the fridge policy (a fridge policy!) is, reminders not to steal and that in the event of a fire they must leave the building to avoid being burned to death. In one office there were 14 full colour, laminated notices telling people to come to work on time, not to pour boiling water on toddlers, to avoid spreading infectious diseases, the sink policy – yes, really - that time in the kitchen was being monitored, and that staff attendance was under review.
This in an organisation that "doesn't have the money" for a box of tissues.
I'm a big fan of Health and Safety legislation, it really is necessary to tell people that hot water is hot, but Health and Safety is not the issue in an organisation that feels it necessary to watch how long individuals are spending in a kitchen.
The private sector doesn’t seem to have the same issues. People there somehow know how to use a fridge without needing a policy. It's not that people who work in the private sector are any brighter than people who serve the public, far from it. It’s more that initiative is more likely to be nurtured rather than treated with suspicion and organisational vision tends to be wider than what’s happening in a microwave.
Work in the public and voluntary sectors is too often reduced to a Kafkaesque model of not-work where flair and imagination are perceived as suspect and personally threatening. In the private sector innovation, ideas and positive critique are more likely to be welcomed.
I've worked in places where little children bellow and cry too much while stressed workers scream nursery rhymes at them. The staff have obviously gone through training and got appropriate qualifications. The staff ratios are legal and the toilet-cleaning rota is managed very well, everything is fine on paper and that's all that matters. Sickness rates and staff turnover are costing an arm and a leg but the funders are content with the reports sent to them. Funders tell organisations what they expect to hear and then organisations repeat it back to them including, incredibly, sending them ‘case studies’ instead of saying, “No, we will not send you a case study because that would be entirely inappropriate.” Instead, organisations make case studies up.
It's true that many people are put into positions of responsibility that they are not worthy of and they can have a profound effect on the people working under them. It's an irony that those people who don't feel anxious about being competent at their job, who believe they're indispensable to the organisation, are more likely to be so comfortable at work that they feel no need for personal development. Similar problems arise when a leader isn't confident enough to lead but just keeps doing what they're told rather than saying, "Why do we need to be told not to scald children? What's going on here?"
Writing a fridge policy is not a good use of anyone's time. Any organisation that needs a fridge policy has far, far greater problems than manky yoghurt.
I had to sit down to listen carefully to a radio programme this morning, discussing this news. A growing number of school age children are still wearing nappies.
The assumption is that that it is underclass parents, people who can barely drag themselves from their filthy pits to tend to their almost-inhuman offspring, who are responsible for this epic neglect. Those people who called in to the radio programme to talk about their personal experience of this phenomenon felt they don’t have enough time because they're at work. The research suggests their attitude isn't limited to people who call radio programmes.
They work all week and on their days off they don’t have the energy to commit to this very basic task. They can’t bear the thought of having to clean up the inevitable and quite normal mistakes that occur during toilet training so they don’t bother. Helping their child move from an infant stage to that of an appropriately independent and capable child takes a couple of weeks, and these parents can't spare that time.
Quite obviously, the majority of parents from every background manage to toilet train their children. I’d propose that a parent who cannot manage to care for their children should have Social Service involvement whatever their background – the excuse that you’re too tired after work to bother with your own children is preposterous.
There are any number of employers who would happily work their employees into the ground and resent any workplace legislation that gets in the way of making a profit. I’m suggesting that if an employee feels under such profound pressure that they cannot take time off work to toilet train their child then something is dangerously out of balance. Dangerously. Even the DWP doesn’t insist that a lone parent work until their youngest child is 7 years old.
But there’s so much greater status in being employed rather than being a single parent on the dole. At what point does caring about your status become more important than caring for your child?
Happy St George's Day, a day to appreciate the many, many benefits we have as people living in a first-world economy.
The World Service broadcast a particularly interesting piece last night, on how France Must Change. High unemployment, a State-bound economy in the doldrums, strikes, laughable working hours, and now – get this! – legislation that prevents employees from responding to work emails after 6pm! What an outlandish and economically naive country.
Strange then, that France is ahead of our own Hard Working, endlessly striving, entrepreneurial economy, second only to Germany in Europe and fifth in the world. In a survey out today comes the news that “Britain has the lowest quality of life of 9 major European countries."
France has the highest quality of life.
The weather has something to do with it as does our naturally cynical nature – we expect to be treated badly and so it comes as no surprise when we’re treated badly – but here’s a chilling analysis:
“We may still be enjoying the fourth highest household income in Europe, but the high cost of living means we are living to work.”
Person Centred counselling has a useful principle called the Locus of Evaluation. It proposes that when we’re allowed to remain in touch with how we genuinely feel we can make good choices; good for ourselves and good for the people around us. This is called The Internal Locus of Evaluation. The External Locus of Evaluation develops when we’re told how we must feel and criticised for feeling differently from the people around us. We have to ignore our genuine feelings to continue to be valued. People who function from an External Locus of Evaluation continue to look to people in authority to decide how they must feel and often feel absolutely dreadful, even if they determinedly continue to believe they are content with the way things are. You can read up on the theory here.
On Sunday the Mail felt it would be profitable to send an undercover reporter to a food bank and, despite noting that the reporter was asked lots of questions about his circumstances, recount that he walked away with £40 worth of groceries, unquestioned. In the past that would simply have added to the sneering disgust of the nation but this time it resulted in £35,000 in donations to the Trussell Trust.
Times and nations are not going to change much. Against all the evidence, as a country we’re going to continue believing that the French are lazy and on the verge of economic collapse whilst we lead the world in toughness and fiscal wisdom. But, as the Daily Mail incident demonstrates, individuals are now more than ever capable of effecting change. I’d propose that the conditions that bring individuals to the point of collapse are those that we are experiencing now. We’re being told one thing – that food banks are stupidly supporting evil people to lie around laughing at the Hard Working Tax Payer – when we know something very different – that food banks are a symptom of an unequal society, that the more unequal the society the more miserable society becomes and that we have the lowest productivity in the whole of the G7. Social media is a tool that individuals use to subvert propaganda, but attending to the messages that we constantly berate ourselves with is another, more difficult matter.
It can be profoundly sad and even disturbing to understand that many of the beliefs we hold dear are nothing but empty words, to realise that the way we've lived to this point has been largely meaningless and for someone else's benefit. It takes time to understand how it happens at all, but if you find yourself wondering about this kind of thing then you're ready to explore it. There's a lot to cherish in the English (and British) way of being, we'd be foolish to reject all of it, and there's a lot that needs to be examined too.
*Written by Cecil Rhodes, who left England at the age of 9.
4 senior bankers have killed themselves in the last week.
As a Bloomberg article says,
Though the reasons are not clear in either case, the coincident deaths will feed the discussion of excessive stress levels in the financial industry, not just for the young interns working 100-hour weeks but also for accomplished executives. Stress-related resignations, heart attacks and suicides may be par for the course in a high-octane, risky businesses, but the public does not really want finance to be one of these: Its money is at stake.
That sounds callous but it’s what all employers, including yours, are ultimately concerned about. If you are self-employed then you are likely to be even less caring about your own wellbeing than the average money-focused, gimlet-eyed employer.
Enough now. These men were amongst the most high-status, intelligent and wealthy people in society and they killed themselves. If they can find themselves locked into a despairing panic state then any of us can.
I don’t think it’s possible to say these 6 things too often:
There are a great many techniques that will help you manage your time and your attitude towards work but working a consistent 50 hour week is just not sustainable. Don’t swallow the rhetoric about Hard Working Taxpayers. With unemployment down, why is productivity also down? Economists are baffled but for a small fee I'll tell them why this is: Everyone is outrageously hacked off, largely for excellent reasons. Don’t wait until you want to jump out of a window before you address it.
The majority of my clients come to me with very similar stories: “I have too much work, my boss is either very nice but doesn’t support me or is unpleasant and doesn’t support me. I’m working way over my contracted hours and achieving very little of actual value, but as long as all the boxes are ticked that’s all that matters. I like my work but the kind of stuff I’m expected to do now has really worn me down. I don’t see my family. Secretly, my children have become a burden, they get in the way of my work.”
In some cases coaching helps the client to break down what looks like an enormous pile of never ending demands into smaller, more manageable tasks and attention to relationships, and whilst this can be very valuable it is not the whole answer.
Whether we like it or not the UK is now in the grip of a fantasy approach to life where a lack of hard work is the only thing keeping you from success and the unemployed are all workshy scroungers. I read an article in Forbes yesterday that partly drove me to write this blog entry: “Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid.” What really chilled me were the comments, 65 pages of “Thank you so much, this really made my day, this is so amazing and I can see where I need to do more work on myself.”
So many clients are being told that they have ‘the wrong attitude’. Almost always what this means is “You’re not doing what you’re told to do fast enough and you ask too many questions.”
Our concept of success makes us all feel like failures. It may be that a person has to be single-minded to increase their income but the actual facts show us, again and again, that being male, remaining in full time employment and the income of the family you're born into are better determinants of not living in poverty than either hard work or ‘attitude’.
While some of the points in the first article are valid and good advice, for a moment let's turn the rhetoric on its head. Emotionally Damaged People: 5 ways to understand them.
1. Emotionally Damaged People don’t seek insight. They have learned that their feelings – and the feelings of others – are unimportant and they're disinterested in concepts of fairness or integrity. They have been trained to ignore their feelings and to treat harsh life lessons as something to be grateful for, as a matter of personal survival in an incredibly brutal environment. When a situation turns out badly they cannot bear to examine why, or who may have been affected.
2. Emotionally Damaged People don’t care about people who are less powerful than them. They couldn’t care less about criticism or advice from people they perceive to be beneath them. If the criticism comes from people they believe to be more important than them they are trained to be grateful, even if that criticism is persecutory. They can only function in a hierarchy. And they strive to be as high up as possible in that hierarchy, whatever the cost to their family or to themselves.
3. Emotionally Damaged People ignore the costs that instability have on them and on others. Emotionally Damaged people are not interested in how bereavement, low pay, illness, children, elderly parents or anything else affects anyone. They perceive themselves and especially other people as things.
4. Emotionally Damaged People are not interested in the causes of problems or how to alter anything for the better, other than the manner in which their betters perceive them.
5. Emotionally Damaged people are desperately lonely. They've been told from childhood that they are entirely alone in the world. They know that they will not be supported by anyone and they’re not interested in supporting anyone else. If their culture includes being seen to be supporting others via charity or mentoring they will become involved in these activities in order to be seen to be compliant. They have learned that human nature punishes failure and non-compliance, even if that’s the failure to be born in a prosperous family, and the emotionally damaged person is resigned to this situation. They have learned that it is better to stand on other people than to be trodden on.
Genuinely successful people know that relationships are what matter, not status or income. Having enough money to remain healthy, pay the bills, eat and sleep well, spend time outdoors for pleasure and relaxation and with people who contribute positively to their wellbeing is important – having more is nice but not necessary.
Here’s another piece of research: 1 in 5 British workers have taken time off due to stress.
“According to the study difficult deadlines, management pressure and a lack of support are the main reasons for workplace stress and 6% and 3% of stressed workers resort to unhealthy practices to cope, smoking and drinking alcohol respectively.”
Look at your attitude. See who you're trying to please, and why, and what you genuinely want from life.
Back in the early 90’s I ran an organisation that advised on everything to do with death and dying, including sitting vigil with the dying, so I’m relaxed around the subject. In general though, people feel that death is something that they can’t speak about, perhaps because it will bring death to them or make people think they’re weird, so I was slightly anxious about how many people would turn up to the first Portobello Death Café, especially since it was being recorded by Radio 4.
I need not have worried. In all, there were about 20 of us, about half of whom looked under 25, and the conversation flowed beautifully. Not surprisingly, older people had developed their philosophy around death, it seemed to hold no fear for them, and they were keen to stress how important it was to live as full a life as possible. Younger people seemed more focused on the deaths they had experienced and how the process of dying, death and bereavement seemed too haphazard, that there were no rituals to guide them or anyone else through something that didn’t just happen for one day but resonated throughout their lives.
(A few days later Selfies At Funerals appeared on tumblr, which confirmed those experiences. I don’t think it’s the end of civilisation but a demonstration that many young people are now totally unprepared to deal with death and are attempting to find their own way based on how they handle other events. They now know that death is not like other events.)
Right at the beginning of the evening we wrote about what death meant for us on Post It notes and stuck them on the wall. Throughout the evening the notes fell off like autumn leaves. No one missed the symbolism. The reporter put his recording equipment away and joined us as an equal, we all listened to each other carefully and respectfully. The age differences in this group were striking and whilst no overt teaching happened it was noticeable and somewhat moving that younger people listened carefully to what older people had to say and vice versa.
Then we fell upon the exquisite Red Velvet cake that Hummingbird Bakery had so kindly donated and I had to remind people to go home so that the venue could close on time. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was the part of the Radio 4 report in which I say “Portobello Death Café” as if I’ve gone mad. I was reading the cake and was fairly overwhelmed by Hummingbirds generosity and the sheer prettiness of the cake. You can hear my shame as well as the wise and useful things that people said at the café here at around 25mins in.
I’m hopeful that tonight’s Death Café will be as successful and that the one on the 13th November that will be filmed by Yahoo will come across well. People do want to talk about death, to explore their fears and philosophy and develop their knowledge by listening to other people’s experience. If you’re around Portobello, join us.
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I went to lunch with a friend this afternoon and talked about how much more sane she felt having left her work. Marian used to work for a large organisation moving terribly important bits of paper around, something that added very little to the sum of joy or convenience to the world. When she joined the organisation she had to opt out of the Working Time Directive which would limit her working week to an average of 48 hours. Predictably, she began experiencing racing thoughts, became anxious, started having panic attacks, felt paranoid (although her employers really were out to get her.) got insomnia, began drinking too much alcohol in order to regulate her mood and sleep, lost friends, got exhausted and crashed. Her ex-employer provides a GP something Marian believed to be altruistic until she realised that this GP was contracted to let HR know about staff ailments. And so Marian was unable to see an actual GP rather than a sinister informant for some weeks, and then, not surprisingly, was signed off work for 3 weeks.
To cut a depressingly common story short, her life was made hell and so she left.
There's something punitive and smug about employers who, in the 21st century, believe their staff should work more than 48 hours a week. Is their company so disfunctional, so incompetent, that people have to work this many hours? And yet an increasing number of people are buying into this nonsense. There's been a very sharp increase in the numbers of people I'm seeing who are suffering not so much workplace stress as workplace abuse, being asked to sign away their lives and privacy to organisations that bleat loudly about how awful The State is and then behave like a Statist dictatorship.
The rhetoric around Hard Working Tax Payers has become pathetic. If hard work is the route to success then the recent immigrant with three low status jobs or the pensioner who can't afford to give up work should be living the high life. The LSE agrees.
I'm seeing people on the verge of serious mental illness because their employer treats them like a disposable machine part. This has a lot to do with status - somehow it's become high status to work like a donkey as long as money is thrown at you. Let me say this clearly: having lots of money doesn't make you better than anyone else. Time and again, it's been proven to make people behave very badly.
I tried to find an image to illustrate this blog and searched images for "Hard Working Tax Payer." Endless snarky pictures about how the poor are milking tax payers came up. There are a growing number of people who are very content to punch down, to hate and fear people who are vulnerable, and they're useful to people and organisations who like to keep employees hard at work. But it's poison to the soul.
If you want to be happy then behave like a human being. Spend time with your friends and family. Get some sunlight in the fresh air - if you can't spend an hour a day outdoors then your life is way out of balance. When you leave work, leave work. Get some exercise, not a three minute blast in the gym but a pleasant run or walk. Do something that you enjoy and give yourself enough time to enjoy it. And for goodness sake, do something meaningfully useful for someone who can't pay you.
It may be that you lose status if you stop commuting (in conditions that are illegal to transport cattle) to your ace job and take up something less exciting closer to home. You may have to move house if you take a lower-stress job but that's much better than making an emergency sale when you're thrown away because you can't handle the pressure. Yes, you won't be working in the same glossy environment, but you will be able to take a leisurely lunch with a friend, soak up a bit of autumn sunlight and think about how much more human you've become.
This is a guest post from Alastair Arnott, the author of Positive Failure. Rather than running as fast as we can from failure we might learn from it teaching us, as it does, wisdom and humility rather than the sloganeering and impossibility of 'mandatory success.'
In my book ‘Positive Failure’ I attempt to conceptualise failure. Such an important aspect of human development deserves to be understood fully, whatever occupation or facet of life we occupy. It has turned out that the roots of failure seem to lie in our schooldays. ‘How to’ has been done. We all know how to diet, how to get that perfect stomach and how to relax. We don’t need ‘how to’. What has not been covered, is when ‘how to’ fails. The stuff that gets in the way, the obstacles and defeat that is inevitable in our own personal journeys, the relentless perfectionism we strive to achieve. How relevant to people's real lives has school actually been? Over 50% of children leave school branded as failures in the UK, having not obtained the required amount of qualifications.
I argue that we all subconsciously want to be right, all the time. Hypothetically, lets imagine a world where this happens. Every endeavour succeeds as well as you thought it would, every obstacle is overcome easily and any problem is immediately solved. To me, this feels uncomfortable and frightening. Something ironically wouldn’t be ‘right’ if this was reality. We subconsciously strive to keep our image of ourselves positive, yet we all know that everyone makes mistakes and nobody’s perfect. So why do we defend, pretend and, in some cases twist the truth to make ourselves look good?
Have you ever paused and thought about William Shakespeare as a child? I hadn’t. As Ken Robinson said in one of his lectures: “can you imagine being his English teacher?” Stop making up words, calm down, put that pen down and listen, that isn’t on the syllabus, you have to follow our curriculum!
I wonder how he would fare in today’s school system? Would he have passed his English?
Our children are failing to learn because they haven’t learnt how to fail. They are more confident, more individual and more vulnerable than they ever have been. Their self-esteem is at record levels, yet employers the world over, complain of how they are just not up to the standard required. When they don’t know what to do, they crumble. Do they have the resilience necessary to secure the job or career they want? They are labeled as bright, dim, clever or stupid at younger and younger ages. The IQ test continues to be the basis for the 11+ exam in the UK and is over 100 years old. Can you imagine if medicine, technology or science still used instruments and measurements from 100 years ago?
Can we reverse this? I think we can. I introduce the theory of positive and negative failure. Positive failure in its simplest form is a dose of failure that is similar to a vaccination process. The process of vaccination is not pleasant. I argue that the theory of positive failure mirrors the patterns of Edward Genner's smallpox vaccine and functions within the same paradigm.
In a world of mandatory success, I argue that success can breed contempt and positive failure breeds progression. To distinguish between the two types of failure, I offer this definition:
Positive failure: is failure after appropriate investment that leads to further learning or development.
Negative failure: is failure after inappropriate investment that stunts further progress or development.
Conducive to positive failure are appropriately supportive and forgiving relationships in an unforgiving environment. The more realistic and tangible the challenge or standard, the more likely it is for positive failure to occur.
I argue that negative failure adversely effects self-esteem and resilience. Positive failure does not adversely affect self-esteem, but strengthens and builds it. For positive failure to yield the best results, I suggest the following preconditions are important.
Pre-conditions for positive failure: acceptance of ones own vulnerability, having a growth mindset and embracing imperfection.
Pre-conditions for negative failure: defiance of ones own vulnerability, having a fixed mindset and embracing perfectionism.
Rather than trying to live up to a perfectionalist idea of ourselves, which is projected by someone else, why not embrace our own strengths, our own failures and our own weaknesses. I encourage us to see failure as a gift, as an irreplaceable source of laughter, art, individuality, creativity and change.
Click the link to find out more about Positive Failure, out now with Cambridge Academic Publishers and available on Amazon.
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