Learning from Failure

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Learning from FailureHere at the ranch, you are given many opportunities to challenge yourself; to grow and evolve, and learn about yourself as a person. Though many of these opportunities have come from times of success, I have learned here that it is through failure, and having the opportunity to learn from failure, which has had the biggest impact in helping me improve myself as an individual.

Since arriving at the ranch seven weeks ago, I have slowly been given tasks that require more responsibility. Up until this point, I had been fairly successful with the tasks that I had been set. I was making small mistakes here and there, but I always had someone to fall back on if something went wrong. It wasn’t until I was entrusted the responsibility of riding up into the mountains and taking down B and F camp, did I really experience failure from my own decision-making.

The task to take down B and F camp, and prep it for the winter, was the most responsible task that I have been given to date. This role included: riding up the mountain to camp, taking the tents down, and bringing it all back down the mountain to store ready for next year. Having visited this camp on several occasions, I initially felt confident. I knew the way and I knew the surroundings, so in my mind I had created a strict plan of how the day was going to evolve. This was my first mistake. Here at the ranch, variables change quickly, and you have to be prepared to be flexible and adaptable with plans and decision-making. Recent heavy snow meant that not only was the trail up to B and F camp going to be far more difficult to navigate, but it also meant that the tents themselves would be buried under heavy snow and ice. Yet, having always fallen into the habit of sticking to a rigid plan, I failed to acknowledge these variables, and departed the ranch with a naive sense of optimism that I had everything under control.

Having failed to recognise these new challenges before I departed, I had left the ranch completely unprepared. As consequence, after spending over three hours of battling with fallen trees, deep snow, and with a rather stubborn pack horse, I had made it to camp; behind schedule and completely flustered. To make things worse, the tents had collapsed under the weight of the snow, which would make the task more challenging. Yet, instead of solving the problem by adapting my plan for the moment, I convinced myself that I had to stick to ‘plan A’, which was to get as much done as I could before 3pm, and leave with whatever I could get down by then.

As consequence to this poor decision making, I left camp with the job only half completed; with one tent still buried under the snow. It was only when I returned to the ranch did I realise the true consequence of my mistake. Not only had I wasted a day, I had wasted time, good horses and most significantly I felt that I had lost the trust that I could be relied upon.

This was a steep learning curve. I felt ashamed and embarrassed, and I could have easily hidden away from the consequences of my actions. Instead, the ranch had me address my failure directly, and gave me the opportunity to rectify my mistake by going up to camp to bring down the tent. This time, learning from my previous mistake, I went with a totally different mind-frame. Instead of trying to control my time with pre-made plans, I instead used my initiative and judged the situation in the moment. As a result, the trip was a success, and the camp has now been winterised ready for next years’ trips.

Though this failure was a steep learning curve, the ranch has taught me not to see failure as an end point, but instead to use it as an opportunity to learn and develop. I have learned a lot about myself; how to use my initiative, and how to adapt my plans to work with variables that are out of my control. This in-turn is helping me become an individual who is far better equipped for the ever-changing opportunities that are offered here.

Molly, UK