I learned this phrase during my first week at Highbury Gym (over 10 years ago now!!!) on a course called 10 Minute Gym, which was run by the company, FitPro.
Of all the things I would take from the course - exercise creation, technique correction, rapport building skills and goal setting - this one phrase would be the most powerful for me in terms of my own development, both physically and mentally, in both my personal and work life.
Learning this phrase wasn't even part of the course officially, it was something one of the coaches, Adam, liked to use with his own clients to encourage them to not just shut down when they felt they had 'failed' at something, but to look at it as an opportunity for learning more about themselves to aid in their own improvement.
"There is no failure, only feedback", has clung to my brain cells ever since that day.
You see, I used to be a person who would hit a bump in the road and instantly think "well f-it then, I obviously can't do this!" I was a perfectionist and if I couldn't do something to 100% all of the time, I was clearly no good at it and shouldn't continue my pursuit of what-ever-IT-was.
If I'd decided I wanted to go for a run every day in an effort to lose weight, but missed one morning, my instant reaction would be to get really down on myself and then give-up. If I wanted to eat only 1000 calories a day until I hit my target weight (seriously un-healthy btw), but had a massive binge after several days of always feeling hungry, grumpy and tired, my instant reaction would be to quit.
I was focusing on my failure and would quit, honestly believing that I just had no will power because, in my mind, other people succeeded using these methods.
My reactions were highly emotionally charged, and what I have realised since is that if I had asked myself the question "what have I learned about myself from this failure?" I would have given my brain permission to focus on the logic of the situation, and not the emotion.
The emotion would illicit such self-talk as, "well, I've eaten those two biscuits now and ruined everything, I might as well eat the whole pack!" (I'm sure you've been there!). And then of course, I would set myself back even further.
Whereas if I had looked at it from a logical point of view, it would not only have helped me to find solutions to how I could do better next time, I believe it could have also helped me be kinder to myself because I would see things for what they truly were.
For example, where you eat two biscuits, say to yourself, "OK, so I ate the biscuits and enjoyed them even though they weren't planned, no big deal! Maybe next time I'm looking at the biscuit tin I could pause for a second and think about other, healthier foods I would enjoy right now".
It wasn't until I began to change my emotional over-reaction to a logical response, that I improved my relationship with food and exercise; that positive relationship worked its way into how I feel about myself and my body. This actually means that I hardly ever binge because I don't feel the need to, and if I miss a planned exercise session, instead of really beating myself up over it, I can let it go and promise myself that I'll start with a clean slate tomorrow. This in turn has led to me enjoy healthy foods and exercise even more, and I even apply the 'no failure, only feedback' motto to other aspects of life such as my business.
So, my message to you is, the next time you're ready to polish off that whole packet of biscuits or tub of ice-cream in a moment of emotional "f**k-it!" or you're beating yourself up for not making it to that kettlebell class, pause, and gently remind yourself - "There is NO failure, only feedback".