If a tree fails in the forest, and nobody is around to witness it, does it learn anything?
The value of many of life’s experiences is greatly enhanced when those experiences happen with others. This is true for fun experiences. It is true for difficult experiences. And, it is true for failures.
As learning experiences go, failures are a goldmine. However, our ability to mine these experiences is crippled if we do it in isolation. Oftentimes, the feelings and experience of failing can disrupt the clarity of our thoughts, or distort our perspectives, preventing us from the sort of analysis that we need.
Here are a few things to think about, related to recruiting a partner in failure:
1. Finding someone who has your best interests, and who wants you to succeed, is nice.
2. Someone who wants you to succeed too much might not be great, because they might be as wrapped up in the experience as you are.
3. Someone who knows what to look for, or who can be taught what to look for. Think about a professional coach — if you were an athlete, you wouldn’t ask someone off the street for feedback on your technique. You’d find a coach who knows.
4. Think about this pattern: Discuss your goals and past struggles beforehand. Do the thing. Then, discuss afterward. Repeat as necessary. (Honestly, if multiple attempts are possible in a short time frame, this is ideal, because we know that shorter feedback loops are more effective in changing behavior).
5. This principle/tool works great in conjunction with other techniques on this list.
6. Sometimes, “performing” for someone can help you succeed. Sometimes it makes it harder. Be aware of the effect this has on you, and do what you can to mitigate any negative effects.