Failure Friends


I’ve been talking about failure lately, here and there.  And having a solid failure friend remains my favorite tip for surviving after failure.  Because I take it as a given that we will fail.  All of us.  Medical or not.  We are all human, which means we make mistakes.

So once we accept this as fact, we can then move towards failing better.  To learning how to thrive after we fall.  And I like having my failure friends.

You find a friend, preferably a nice person, who is capable of empathy.  And you talk to them about your cases that go wrong, about the diagnosis you didn’t make, about the parenting fail you just had with your child.  And they just listen.  And empathize.  And you will feel better.

As soon as you are able to talk about it, your sense of isolation decreases.  Shame decreases.  You become better able to see your failings with a balanced perspective.  With ownership, but also with kindness.  With a reminder of our common humanity.

Choose someone who understands your context.  A doctor for a medical fail.  A parent for a kid-fail.  Anyone for your standard “I fell down the stairs in the subway” moment.  This leads to better understanding of the relevant feelings and issues.

Maybe you only need one failure friend, maybe you need ten.  I have several, and cherish them all.  Sharing our short-comings makes us stronger, not weaker.  It makes us more courageous, not more afraid.

And maybe, one day, you can return the favour.  And just listen to someone who is having a terrible day.  And offer empathy, not solutions.  Listening without criticism or judgement is one of the best gifts to give to your friends, and to yourself.


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