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Failure Update: Our Cambridge Workshops Have Been Rescheduled, Should We Talk About It?


One thing that we have learned about running support sessions and workshops is that interest can vary; sometimes a workshop will fill up immediately and at other times, interest will be limited.

In this case, we didn’t attract enough interest to run the workshops. But we are liaising with the Chitra Sethia Autism Centre to run workshops at a future date.

When we began as a social enterprise, we were advised against discussing these situations for various reasons. Some people felt that it would be better to lie than share a perceived failure, some felt that discussing this failure would only give power to our competitors.

But is it failure? If so, is failure something we should be ashamed about?

As far as we see it, failure is part of growth; plants grow in the direction of light, even if that means growing across the floor as opposed to upright. We don’t consider that failure, and we don’t consider opportunities to learn as failure either.

It’s important that we talk about these issues so that we learn, develop and adapt, so that the services can evolve, so that we can create industry wide standards about what to expect from support services and where you stand with them.

The same is true for any issue, personal or professional, that gives you a sense of perceived failure. Failure is an emotion that can make us feel helpless, in some cases it can make us feel ashamed, and as if we don’t belong. It’s a real experience that encourages silence. But it doesn’t need to.

Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. It might not feel like it after you have experienced repeated failure, but that doesn’t make failure a bad thing. Failure is a redirector, it gives us gentle nudges (sometimes shoves) in the right direction. It asks us to stop and take a step (or 100 steps) back. In this instance, we needed to first do more groundwork with local support groups; we aren’t visiting Cambridge to stand in the way of other support groups or engage in a dominance contest. Our approach is that running support services are not about crushing your competition. Support services are about working together to provide the best support that we can to the people who need them. There is no room for competition and there shouldn’t be, because support services are not just about one person’s ego.

Support services are about working together to provide the best support that we can to the people who need them.

How can services evolve if we don’t talk about difficulty? Furthering that, how can you expect people who experience difficulty to trust that you can best support them if minor and major difficulties are followed by silence? And on a personal level, how can we grow if we don’t communicate somehow about our difficulties?

This doesn’t mean that you always have to speak to someone else, speaking to people that we trust can help us in many ways; social bonding results in a release of oxytocin which in turn can act as a stress regulator and can boost social memory processes, talking to someone that you trust can also help to give you perspective. But there are other ways to get perspective; journaling, drawing and simple consideration can all help you do this too.

The important thing is that you create a dialogue with yourself about your feelings, should you feel that you need further support then perhaps you would like to see a counsellor or speak to a trusted friend or family member.

Similarly, it’s important that we create a dialogue with all parties. Because by doing so we can help to create better services, we can help to foster a sense of trust and community, and we can add to public expectations about support services.

I had intended this post to be a brief explanation about why we can’t be in Cambridge this week. Instead I got to cover failure and why we think that it’s not as bad as we’re led to believe.

What are your experiences with failure? Have you been encouraged not to talk about it? Or have you been encouraged to discuss it and see it as an opportunity to learn? Let us know and have a wonderful day.




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