The Gifts of Failure

Lau Ciocan
4 min readJan 12, 2022

We are more than a week into the New Year, and most of us will have made a few New Year resolutions, objectives, goals or whatever label you prefer to use.

According to YouGov nearly 1 in 5 (19%) Brits own up and say they did not keep any of the resolutions they made in 2021 and another 44% kept some, but not all of the resolutions they made. If you ‘failed’ to keep your resolutions in a way or another, that’s okay!

I’m not going to talk about how to achieve your resolutions, why they’re so important or why you should make them a priority every year. We tend to talk a lot about success nowadays, but not enough about failure and how it’s an essential element for our journey to success.

That sounds mad, I know. But hear me out.

Mindset can change the meaning of failure

When faced with a failure, one generally has two options. They can say “I failed my driving license test, so I need to improve my changing gear skills”or “I failed my driving license test, so I’m a failure.”

A fixed mindset (as defined by Dr Carols Dweck) believes that a failure indicates an individual’s inherent limitations which is then internalised (‘I’m a failure’). This inhibits one’s capacity to grow and also erodes confidence. A ‘growth mindset’ enables an individual to learn from their shortcomings, and to see failure as feedback mechanism on how to improve. This is critical to one’s long-term growth and development.

Even in a growth mindset, failure is not a pain-free experience. But it doesn’t define you and your abilities. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with and learned from.

Do men respond differently to failure?

I believe men (and women) can have a tendency to internalise and suppress failure at the same time due to social conditioning. On the one hand, many men are driven by a deep fear of incompetence or powerlessness. Most men are taught from a young age that they have to be strong and competent. Not being able to solve a problem leaves men in a place where they feel a bit like they’re not good enough, and this can feel like failure to some. And it’s important to note that this feeling is not always apparent.

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Lau Ciocan

Founder of MAN - a shortlisted platform for the 'Best Men's Health Initiative' promoting healthy masculinities & men's mental health. manmentoring.org.uk