Innovation Culture Bulletin: Be nice to failure

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They say do to others as you would have them do to you. But for the self-critical individual, chances are you are much harsher on yourself when you make mistakes than you would be to your colleagues, friends and family. Humans are the only creatures that make themselves suffer through negative emotions, particularly of self-judgment, regrets, and failed expectations. In today’s connected world, we also constantly put ourselves up for comparison with others’ constructed, perceived successes.

In some ways, healthy competition is good motivation. But as Mark Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, South Carolina suggests, there are some ways of thinking about oneself that will prove more beneficial than others. Those on the harsh end of the self-critical spectrum beat themselves up when they make mistakes, set unreasonable expectations for their companies, dwell on failures, and exaggerate difficulties. But on the other end, we get the entrepreneurs that evaluate themselves with more kindness, accepting that mistakes are inevitable and that every business has shortcomings. These individuals are not slacking or opening the chance to slide into mediocrity, but treating themselves as they would to other people when difficulties arise.

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