“Don’t be afraid to fail” is one of the most used motivational phrases to encourage others. With the goal of encouraging them to not be scared to think differently, to express fresh ideas, or to simply try something new. However, a lot of what we say in this regard contrasts sharply with how we actually act when one of us makes a mistake.
Errors should be pointed out and that criticisms, despite how upsetting they may be, can still lead to improvements or healthy changes. But declaring our displeasure with something is one thing; expressing it by threatening it with fire and fury is quite another.
Most of the individuals exhibit the latter kind of behavior when they encounter something that doesn’t agree with them, mostly on social media. Their anger is frequently aimed towards the person or people they believe to be at fault for the error that has so offended their senses; personal jabs and character assaults abound, and even legal action is urged as a proper remedy.
Let us try to consider the possibility that the central problem—the alleged offense—may simply be a case of poor judgment on the part of one or more individuals. Are they truly deserving of all the hate being directed at them in light of this?
Think about the message that behaviors like these give to others around us. Sure, we’re delighted to utter platitudes like “don’t let the fear of failure stop you,” but if this is the kind of reaction they can anticipate if they fail, aren’t all of our words just empty promises? Do we expect a young person to put themselves out there and showcase something new that, regrettably, is rife with honest mistakes or unintentional falsehoods when they know the possible reaction they could face?
The world of social media frequently traps us in binary paradigms where everything is seen as either/or. But in reality, things are rarely, if ever, so black and white, and this kind of imposed delineation doesn’t allow for nuanced thinking or to treat new ideas—however wrong they may be—with openness or, maybe more crucially, with kindness.
Again, the problem here is not with pointing out wrongdoings; rather, it is with how we do so. Any innovator’s journey will inevitably include mistakes, so let’s just avoid making them the end of it.
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