For some people, failure ruins them. For others, it is just the beginning of something wonderful. How do we make sure when we fail, we’re the latter?
You know that feeling you get when fail miserably at something?
You’re on a first date, for example, and you ramble on about your super funny cat, while your date sits across the table with that deer-in-headlights look on his face. You waltz into a job interview — all ready to kick some you-know-what — and accidentally call your would-be employer by the wrong name.
You miss a deadline. Sleep in past your alarm clock. Show up late to a flight. Lock your keys in the car. Forget to pick up your kid from school. Lose your wallet. Make a bad decision that crushes your business.
You know the feeling. It’s that gut-sinking, I’m-an-idiot, I’ll-never-amount-to-anything feeling and it is awful. There is no getting around it. But failure doesn’t have to crush us. In fact, it can be an asset to us if we’ll let it.
One of the strongest indicators of how failure impacts a person long-term is how they respond right after it takes place. In fact, research shows the key response to know if a person or organization’s failure will lead to further tragedy or turn to success is simply this: do they own the failure?
In other words, when we respond by saying, “I’m so sorry. I made a mistake. This was my fault. I see where things went wrong,” that sort of thing, failure acts like one of life’s best teachers. We learn from our mistakes and move on.
When we try to pass the buck — when we make excuses for ourselves, blame other people, or try to avoid the natural consequences of our actions, the results are the opposite. Our failure snowballs into more failure.
When your respond to failure like — well, like it’s a failure — you’re must less likely to recover from it.
Why is this?
Because we can only receive what failure has to teach us if we’re willing to fully embrace the failure itself. When you’re willing to accept the fact that failure occurred, you also get the positive lessons failure teaches.
- Failure teaches us that success — real success — rarely comes in the form of a “big break”. More often than not it comes after months, even years, of hard work.
- Failure teaches to try many avenues before giving up on reaching a goal because usually, there is more than one way to get there.
- Failure teaches us not to trust everyone who says they are out to help us. It teaches us to trust that gut feeling, the intuitive sense inside us.
And this is just the beginning of what failure teaches.
Some failures are bigger than others. Some are more public than others, some are more humiliating, some have a greater stigma around them. But learn to own your failures, admit them and even embrace them. You’re much more likely to get the results you want.
- Intelligent Failure Learning And Innovation Loop
- Why Success Always Starts with Failure
- What if The Answer To Your Problem Is to Hit The Gas?
Next time you think you’ve failed miserably, remind yourself of the amazing benefits failure can bring. The greater the failure, the greater the potential for reward.
No Sidebar: At Work
Whether you’re leveraging your skills and connections to get the best job in your industry or you’ve walked away from the corporate work to create your own job, failure can be terrifying. Failure often means loss of income, loss of opportunity and loss of reputation.
But what if our obsessive fear of failure is actually distracting us from what really matters?
What if we actually need failure in order to find the success we want?
It’s not really failure that defines us in our careers or work lives. It’s what we do with failure. If we’re willing to do the five things Schiff suggest in this article, Turn Failures into Stepping Stones, failure can become our asset for growing our skills.
But what if failure in the entrepreneurial world could have more than just a emotional or educational benefit? What if it could actually equal — money? It might seem impossible but that’s what Jane Porter discovered how failure made these entrepreneurs millions.
Not only can failure help us to grow our career skills and make money, as a fringe benefit, it can also help us to help more people with what we do. In this video, JK Rowling speaks to the graduates at Harvard University and shares how these students can use their failure to change the world.
No Sidebar: At Home
Failure isn’t just an important asset when it comes to finding clarity in our careers, it can also be an asset to us at home if we allow it.
Author Donald Miller suffered failure after failure in his relationships until he finally asked for help. At a place where further failure seemed impossible, Miller sought friends and counseling, who gave him the support he needed. Soon later, he not only met and married a woman he loves, he wrote a book about it called Scary Close.
Not only is it important for us to fail personally, it’s important to let our kids fail. If our kids never experience the sting of failure, if we steal their failures from them, we also steal the corresponding benefits it can bring.
And ultimately, when it comes to failing, attitude is key. We can either choose to consider failure a setback or we can choose to fail forward.
No Sidebar: In Your Soul
If you’re reading this now and thinking to yourself, “you don’t know me. The failures in my life are too big and too miserable to have a corresponding benefit,” Perhaps what you need is this insightful article, I Have Failed, but I Am Not A Failure.
We might fail but failure does not define us.
As we begin to see how failure does not define us personally, we will discover the freedom to admit our failure to others. There can be something quite cathartic about sharing your failure with those around you and realizing you are not the only one who has ever failed!
Failure is a natural, necessary part of being human.
The ultimate goal is we can finally make peace with our failures — past, present and future. Not only will we recognize it doesn’t define us, admit it to others and use it to our advantage, we’ll also be able to rest in knowing failure doesn’t need to set us back. It can catapult us into the future we’ve always wanted.