What Star Wars Can Teach Your About Failure

“You can’t win, Darth. Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” Tweet: ​“Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView http://goo.gl/Jz95G2
Obi Wan Kenobi – A New Hope

Star Wars was a box office smash this Christmas. Nearly 40 years after the original release its continued relevance has been partly put down to its timeless story of good versus evil, of reluctant heroes, mysterious mentors, beautiful princesses, staggering successes, and some epic failures.

Inspired directly by the concept of mono myth – or the hero’s journey – as proposed by mythographer Joseph Campbell George Lucas’s Star Wars reflects the eternal internal and external journey to conquer our personal demons – like fear, loss or despair – and become the hero of our own life story.

So, if you’ve made your New Year resolutions and found yourself foundering at the first hurdle it’s not you, it’s designed to be that way. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is not the setback it’s what you do about it. Tweet:The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is not the setback it’s what you do about it. @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView http://goo.gl/Jz95G2

Even Small Failures Distort Perceptions Tweet: Even Small Failures Distort Perceptions @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView http://goo.gl/Jz95G2

No doubt about it, even small setbacks can have big impacts. According to Psychology Today failures “[C]onstitute a form of psychological injury in that they literally distort our perceptions—and thus set us up to fail again.”

How? Well, first, failures distort our perceptions of our abilities, so we feel less able. This makes the original goal seem further out of reach and, finally, failure make us feel success is also out of our control.

Ultimately, this tricky cocktail can make us feel hopeless and stuck. Tweet: Ultimately, this tricky cocktail can make us feel hopeless and stuck. @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView http://goo.gl/Jz95G2

Regain Control & Look at It Another Way

To avoid this mother of all headaches you must find as many ways to regain control of your task or goal as you can.

For example, if that promotion has eluded you and you’re good at your job you may not know what else you can do to be recognised for your contribution.

But how does your company see it? What is the company’s mission? Are you on the same page? If your company values and yours meet that’s all to the good. Now work out how to demonstrate that to those who matter.

If not, maybe regaining control means seeking a new role in a new workplace with values more aligned to your own. So you could upload your CV to a few recruitment sites and make an appointment to talk with a recruitment consultant, for example.

Failure is Not Black or White

Failure can also foster black and white thinking:

I’m such an idiot! I’m such a loser! It’s just my luck!

But part of being successful and being able to bounce back means seeing obstacles as an opportunity to learn and adapt.

If you don’t get through to the second interview don’t think:

I’m useless! They’re against me! No-one wants to hire me! Tweet: I’m useless! They’re against me! No-one wants to hire me! @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView http://goo.gl/Jz95G2

Remind yourself you applied in the first place – success one. You were invited for interview – success two. Now, consider what you can learn from that.

You could ask for feedback and then reassess your interview technique to regain control, for example, but remember to acknowledge that you went for it in the first place.

Defining Your Success

Success for you may be getting to be boss of your company but what if that doesn’t happen? Are you instantly a failure?

A healthier way to define success is to consider what your values really are. If it’s about being the boss maybe this actually means you want more autonomy over your own future or maybe more money, or the kudos.

Consider what your success looks and feels like and ask yourself how this could this be attained in other ways.

Remember: All Heroes Fail Tweet: Remember: All Heroes Fail @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView http://goo.gl/Jz95G2

During the 1998 World Cup David Beckham was shown the red card for tripping up Diego Simeone post foul. The rest of the game was a man down; and a game England could have won with Beckham was lost 4-3 on penalties he would probably have scored.

That one failure to curtail his anger resulted in years of abuse – he was even voted 91st worst Briton in Channel 4’s poll of 100 Worst Britons! You can’t get much more of a public or humiliating failure than that. What’s more it’s hard to imagine now.

So, when you experience your own failures it’s good to reflect that anyone considered successful will have faced setbacks.Take comfort from that, maybe read your hero’s biography to remind you you’re not alone in your defeat to find out how they overcame their demons to emerge stronger than before.

Next Steps: How is your Jedi resilience looking?
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